Sunday, March 27, 2011


It would be hard to deny that Glenn Beck has become a force to be reckoned with in the arena of contemporary political commentary. Like anyone else in the field, his effectiveness can be judged, at least in part, by the reactions of his detractors and admirers alike. One would hope that he would be the first to agree that no one should be judged solely by either the condemnation of their enemies or the praise of their allies. At the recent CPAC meeting he was introduced with the comment that his show was like, and I paraphrase here, listening to an advanced class in American history. It is true that he presents his audience with an almost overwhelming volume of material, frequently referencing Jefferson, Madison and Washington. We mustn’t forget however that he is a man with a perspective and an agenda.

As such, like any other commentator he is more than capable and willing to leave out of his story those things that don’t quite fit into his perspective and agenda or would make the reality less clear and simple as he would portray it. My case in point being, that while he so frequently references Jefferson, Madison and Washington, the name of Alexander Hamilton has rarely crosses his lips, and when it does so, it is most often with some derision.

So my issues with Mr. Beck would be to ask him is this omission willful or accidental? Has he bought too deeply into the characterizations of Hamilton coming from his enemies? On one of his recent television shows he had behind him a large stack of books he claimed as part of his historical reference. Among them was Ron Chernow’s recent biography of Hamilton. Has he actually read it? Has he read Steven Knott’s “Alexander Hamilton and The Persistence of Myth”? How about John Gordon’s “Hamilton’s Blessing: The Extraordinary Life and Times of Our National Debt”? All of these are good references that put Hamilton and his policies in contexts and perspectives beyond that of either his contemporary detractors or their modern day equivalents.

Modern historians all too frequently forget that in the period of our history after the ratification of our Constitution and for decades thereafter, if not unto the present day, the conflict between the Jeffersonian and Hamiltonian schools of thought on both finance and foreign policy was perhaps the most formative one in the creation of what the American Republic has grown to become. Within the context of the historical record it is no more possible to divorce Hamilton from Washington than it is to divorce Jefferson from Madison. Nor any of them, one from the other.

Neither can one divorce Hamilton from American industrial development and wealth, and the growth of the middle class it created, any more than one can one divorce Jefferson’s and Madison’s agrarianism and regionalism from the tragedy of the Civil War. Although it is true that Hamilton considered the Constitution a “flawed document,” no one worked harder for its ratification, often in concert with Madison. The “Federalist Papers” stand as ample testimony to that fact. Jefferson support for it was lukewarm at best. He did not consider it “democratic” enough and accepted it largely as a deferment to his friend Madison and as a fait accompli.

Hamilton stands apart from his contemporaries simply by his background. While Messer’s Jefferson, Madison, Washington and Adams all came from the backgrounds of the privileged and landed gentry, politically and emotionally wedded to their individual States, Hamilton was America’s preeminent nationalist and the arch type of the American self-made man. Born to unwed parents, raised in poverty and orphaned at a young age, he was driven to greatness by just these shortcomings. Having come here as a young man he bore no allegiance to any one State, not even New York where he spent most of his life. As such he was considered an outsider by most of his founding brethren.

The notable exception to this being Washington himself, whom Hamilton had served as his chief aid-de-camp and private secretary during most the Revolutionary War. It is often forgotten that it was Colonel Hamilton that led the final attack at Yorktown that captured the British redoubt breaking the back of their defenses and convincing Cornwallis to surrender (whereas both Jefferson and Madison lacked any military experience). In 1789 it was Hamilton whom Washington called upon to serve as our nation’s first Secretary of the Treasury. Washington so trusted Hamilton that much of Washington’s correspondence during the war was drafted by Hamilton’s hand and was signed by the General with little or no revision. This relationship continued even after Hamilton left the Treasury Department. The largest part of Washington’s famous farewell address being of Hamilton’s composure.

Through his rigorous study of the classic histories of Rome and Greece, no one understood better than Hamilton and by extension Washington, the fragility of the new Republic and the threats posed to it by the financial chaos of out of control inflation and a mountain of debt. Sound familiar? The term “Not worth a Continental” was a part of the American lexicon well into the nineteenth century, and for good reason. After the Revolution, American debt paper was held in such low regard that it traded at 10% to 20% of face value on European markets. If the situation was not corrected, and quickly, the new nation would not be able to conduct any further borrowing; monies desperately needed for both infrastructure and programs mandated by the new Constitution.

Such failure would have left the nation in the position of the “weak sister” and subject to the predations of Spain which coveted those territories south of the Ohio, east of the Mississippi, and west of the Appalachians, and England which had yet to withdraw its troops from the Northwest Territories as had been required by the Treaty of Paris.

Hamilton’s primary purpose in his programs for the assumption of the State’s war debts and the creation of the Bank of the United States was to bind the States together financially, to give them a set of common interests and the strength of unity that would be needed in a world hostile to the very concept of its existence. He succeeded beyond even his own imaginations. By the end of Washington’s second term, American debt paper was trading at a premium above face value and was considered far more stable and reliable than that issued by most of Europe, most of which were personal debts of the crowned heads of Europe rather than sovereign debts of the nations themselves.

It seems then a bizarre irony that Jefferson, Madison and Adams were most fond of heaping calumny upon Hamilton, even after his untimely death, that of being elitist and aristocratic, despite that being precisely the backgrounds from which they came. It could be said that they were the authors of the method of resorting to the personal attack when unable to refute the logic or efficacy of your opponent’s position that seems so prevalent today. Further irony came in that Jefferson, Madison and Monroe all came to conduct their administrations far more in line with Hamiltonian nationalism than either Jefferson’s agrarian isolationism or Jacobin egalitarianism.

Without Hamilton’s Bank of the United States Jefferson would not have had access to the funds he needed to purchase Louisiana. An act, about which he and others in his own party had doubts, especially concerning how in conflicted with their “strict constructionist” interpretation of the Constitution. Madison’s allowing of the charter for the Bank to expire, for political rather than financial reasons, had disastrous consequences for the raising of the funds needed to conduct military operations during the War of 1812. The “Monroe Doctrine” became a cornerstone of American foreign policy for over one hundred years. It could be argued that they all found that lofty rhetorical platitudes were of little use when faced with the realities of having to govern in a hostile world.

Again, sound familiar? So blinded was Jefferson by his mistrust and hatred of Hamilton and his personal conviction that Hamilton had used the office the Secretary of the Treasury for personal gain that one of his first acts on assuming the Presidency was to direct his own Treasury Secretary, Albert Gallatin (himself an immigrant and the son of Swiss nobility) to audit the Treasury’s books in search of Hamilton’s fraud. He found none, and reported back to Jefferson that the accounting systems were so scrupulously structured as to almost preclude fraud being possible. Rather than admit to anyone or even himself that he might have been wrong he became further convinced that Hamilton was even more conniving and clever in instituting his fraud than even he had imagined!

Such was Jefferson’s gratitude to Hamilton for his having persuaded Federalists in the House of Representatives to switch their votes from Burr to Jefferson and break the deadlock of the election of 1800, the one single event, more than any other, that set the course to his death at Burr’s hand.

Lest one fall too deeply for the notion that Jefferson was the great champion of or admirer of the masses I would refer you to Jefferson’s own “Writings, Notes on the State of Virginia” wherein he proposed an educational system that would single out the best students for advancement while the “residue” were “dismissed,” “by this means twenty of the best geniusses [sic] will be racked from the rubbish annually.” {New York: Library of America, 1984, page 272.} Sounds all too much like many comments coming from the left today, Daily Kos, Democratic Underground, Keith Olbermann. Bill Mahr etc., that those who oppose progressive’s agenda are to ignorant or stupid to know what is in their own best interest.

By way of contrast I would give you President Washington’s letter to Hamilton upon his decision to resign as Secretary of the Treasury: “After so long an experience of your public services, I am naturally led, at this moment of your departure from office –which it has always been my wish to prevent- to review them. In every relation which you have borne to me, I have found that my confidence in your talents, exertions, and integrity, has been well placed. I the more freely tender this testimony of my approbation, because I speak from opportunities of information which cannot deceive me, and which serve satisfactory proof to your title to public regard.” {“The Founders on the Founders” University of Virginia Press, 2008 page 198.}

Neither was Hamilton shy in his opinions of Jefferson and Madison. Writing to Edward Carrington in 1792, with whom he had served at the Battle of Yorktown and in the Continental Congress: “Mr. Madison cooperating with Mr. Jefferson…have a womanish attachment to France and a womanish resentment of Great Britain.” {Ibid. page 382.} In the end perhaps Jefferson, Madison and Monroe’s greatest fear of Hamilton was that he was certainly no “democrat.” In hind sight perhaps that’s not such a bad thing.

None of this is stated in order to detract from Jefferson’s or Madison’s great accomplishments that have served our nation well over some 235 years nor to obscure Hamilton’s personal shortcomings and failures, he had more than his share, but rather to try to put them all into a combined context, each into their interconnected place. They were all the greatest of men in the most trying of times, and as all men they were possessed of strengths and weaknesses.

It has been the historical persistence of their great conflict over time, the ebb and flow, the ascendency of one and the decline of the other that has shaped our nation’s history as much or more than any other. They are as inseparable today as they were in the 18th century. The advent of progressivism and socialism today is but a continuation, albeit in a highly perverted form, of Jefferson’s Jacobin inspired egalitarianism. Where Jefferson envisioned a nation of agrarian masses shackled to ignorance and the plow, today’s progressives strive for a nation where the masses are equally shackled to ignorance and the welfare state.

Conversely it was Hamilton who envisioned a diverse economy of farms and industry that would forever break our dependence on Europe and foster the kind of human inventiveness that could and did drive us further forward. I’d think that that is the kind of progress we can all endorse.

So Mr. Beck if I may “Question with boldness,” Why have you left this most important man and his accomplishments out of your narrative? To leave Hamilton out of our history, how our nation came to be, and what it has become, is not simply a disservice to Hamilton, but a disservice to the American people who must have all the facts in order to make the decisions that will shape the future.

Would you not think, before “Not worth a Federal Reserve Note” becomes a part of the new American lexicon, is not perhaps an open and honest re-examination of Hamilton and how his lessons might apply to today in order?

While marble and granite memorials to Jefferson and Washington stand prominently in our Capital, Hamilton’s is but a single statue in front of the Treasury Department. Or is it? Look around you. We live in a nation that is much more a reflection of Hamilton’s vision than that of Jefferson. How long it stays that way is up to us. But making decisions without all the facts may well be akin to building foundations on shifting sands. I’d beg you sir, and all of us to carefully reconsider Hamilton's absence from your narative.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Obama says "I quit!"?

At what point is it possible that President Obama just throws up his hands and says "I quit!"? Who could blame him? Among the universal traits of all politicians is either creating a mess and leaving it for others to clean up or inheriting a mess and making it worse. Add in those other problems that are beyond a limited capability to comprehend, never mind find a workable solution for, and you have all the markings of (A) cutting and running and being labeled a coward and a fool, or (B) hanging on and assuring you will be recorded by history as arrogant, incompetent and a fool,

That seems a pretty harsh assessment so let's look at it from a case in point basis.

When elected and faced with $100 Trillion in unfunded liabilities in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, did he address those problems? No, he decided to expend countless hours and all available political capital in essentially doubling down on that astronomical number by passing a new unfunded liability, health care "reform." Small wonder this dog came back to bite him the next time the voters went to the polls.

When elected the nation had a cumulative debt (and this only at the Federal level) of over $8 Trillion and a deflationary housing crisis not seen since the 1930's. Did he cut the budget? Did he rein in the Wall Street banks? Did he shut down Fannie and Freddie that along with the banks had created the housing mess? No, he shoved another $5 Trillion into the bottomless pit of government debt and deficit spending. Then as if to make things even worse he awards Ben Bernanke with another term as Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, giving the all clear signal to the banks to keep on keeping on with their gouging the public and the taxpayer, and paying out those huge bonuses, as unemployment rises and GDP and tax receipts fall.

It's not just Obama and the Democrats that have chosen this path to fiscal self-destruction; they are after all, just following the European model they seem to so greatly admire. And just how is that working out? While having been eclipsed of late by the glare of events in Japan and the Middle East, financial conditions in the Euro zone continue their deterioration unabated. German/Greek bond spreads have reached almost 12% as that government seem incapable of doing anything. Irish bond yields are above 10% on rumors of coupon payment failure and increasing signals from the newly elected government is not going to go along with the ECB/IMF bank bailout program and the dictated austerity budget that came along with it. Portugal's government appears on the verge of falling under circumstances similar to the Irish. The Italian government, already racked by their never ending corruption problems, now faces an energy crisis as they are more dependent on Libyan oil, natural gas and capital than any other European State. In just three months inflation in the UK has reached 4.4%, and that's just the "official" number. Annualized it would be almost 18%! Never mind Belgium, they haven't had a sitting government in six months and nobody seems to care.

When elected the situation was by no stretch of the imagination stable, but at least it wasn't anything approaching the utter chaos we have now. I guess that Chamberlainesque apology and vacillation tour didn't work out so well. Perhaps now sensing that those tanking approval numbers really do mean something , he has taken another swipe at the tar baby of Arab tribal warfare, only to see his UN mandate and NATO cohesion start to come apart after less than a week. The Arab League started to go wobbly almost as soon as the first bombs hit the ground; The Germans have said "no thanks" and withdrawn all their assets from the region. Although the Brits and the French remain resolute for the moment, neither has the depth of financial of military infrastructure to maintain any protracted engagement. Guess who that will leave holding the proverbial bag and with his fist firmly embedded and stuck to the tar baby?

The implications of all this for an ongoing and already disastrous domestic energy policy are all to obvious to even elaborate on.

So the question for President Obama becomes will it be A or B above? Or is there perhaps a scenario C we are not seeing? That being the possibility of the Clintons playing a Machiavellian power game just below the surface wherein Obama resigns, the bumbling Biden becomes President and appoints Hillary as his VP and then he in turn resigns for "health" reasons, handing her an unelected Presidency and an almost unassailable position in the upcoming election.

Just a thought, but I don't think it's outside the realm of possibility, or of the Clintons' twisted machinations.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

A Parable on the Media Gods

Way back in ancient times, before the internet, when there was a “fairness doctrine”, before cable news systems there existed gods and lesser gods. The New York Times was the Zeus of the news world and resided on the new Mount Olympus known as the island of Manhattan. The lesser gods of ABC, CBS and NBC all paid fealty to the supreme lord by taking the stories published in the NYT and regurgitating them on their nightly news broadcasts. Obsequiousness to the great “Grey Lady” was the normal order of things, simply because that was how it had always been.

But the world of the gods began to change with the advent of cable television and it’s giving birth to a new lesser god, CNN. The order of things on Mount Olympus changed little at first as CNN remained loyal to father NYT, but the mortals below soon became restless with the oppression of the gods, and being what they are, some of them rebelled. Soon they gave birth to a lesser god of their own, FOX, and this new lesser god refused to pay homage to father NYT or any of the other lesser gods for that matter. At first this new lesser god struggled under the weight of the older gods but still refused to bend its knee to them. The word began to spread amongst the mortals that perhaps they too need not cast their fealty to the gods of Manhattan. Soon the mortals became empowered to become their own gods! The internet was born and gave birth to its own child the “blogosphere!”

All this of course angered the gods of Manhattan. “How dare these mere mortal pray to other gods!” they bellowed in their private conclaves. They would never state so publicly but they knew that just as with the gods of ancient Greece they would be rendered powerless without the fealty and prayers of the mortals. Soon not only was it their power that became diminished but also that of their demigods, the politicians, over whom they claimed the power to create or destroy at their whim. Not only had these impertinent mortals created their own rivals to the gods of Manhattan but they were beginning to not just challenge, but replace the demigods that had been chosen for them!

With each new lessening of their power the gods of Manhattan would hurl new bolts of thunder and lightning down upon the mortals from on high. “This FOX you attend is a false god, a usurper of the wisdom of Manhattan! Your new politicians are powerless; we will destroy them just as we have those that came before them that refused to bow before us!” But the mortals continued to ignore the gods of old and their newly created lesser gods of MSNBC and CNBC as well. Fewer and fewer mortals went to their temples of circulation and Neilson numbers, so each new lightning bolt was weaker and farther off the mark that the last. The edifice of their temples, the great taxing and redistributing, all powerful government wherein their demigods had resided, were being redecorated by the mortals in their own image.

The gods of Manhattan have not passed into mythology yet, the rumblings of Mount Manhattan will continue for some time but they grow weaker with each new cycle of the rebellion of the mortals, but like the Titans that preceded the Greek gods of Olympus they will soon fade into the mists of time, starved of the offerings of circulation and Neilson numbers.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Into the Vortex

Over the course of the last almost one hundred years, since the inception of the Federal Reserve Bank, our financial systems and its bankers and our political system and it politicians have become increasingly and indeed incestuously intermingled. This relationship has created what can only be defined as a vortex of corruption. Into this vortex have been drawn a wide variety of other American institutions including unions, insurance companies, mega corporations like GE and variety of so-called non-profit organizations that claim to be independent and unaffiliated but in reality function as shock troops, employed to work around the social edges of the vortex, stirring up the periphery with outrageous behavior just enough to keep the public and the media distracted from the more insidious looting of the nation’s, if not the worlds wealth through the pernicious practices of institutionalized inflation, progressive taxation, and the creation of a vast body of citizens dependent on the same institutions of government. This army of dependents then in turn enslave themselves further by paying for the chains they are shackled with by voting for the same politicians who forged them.

So while on the one hand, the actions on the periphery stir the opposition to useless emotional rage targeting the surface corruption of the likes of ACORN and Planned Parenthood or Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton blatantly playing the race car, all the while on the other hand the powers behind the curtains, the FED, the TBTF banks and their wholly owned and fully subsidized politicians have looted 90% of the value of the dollar, taken us off the gold standard and demonetized real money, silver.

This has created an imbalance in the distribution of the nations wealth that has not been seen since the late ‘20s in the lead up to the collapse of “Black Monday” that plunged the nation and the whole world into the “Great Depression.” But rather than honestly informing the public of this great imbalance and its inherent dangers, the game continues unabated through the POMO process wherein the banks, acting as Primary Dealers, borrow money from the FED, essentially themselves, as they are the owners of the FED, at near zero interest rates, and buy Bonds issued by the Treasury Department. As Primary Dealers they receive a “fee” from the Treasury for making theses purchases. Then after holding these T-Bills for as little as three weeks, they turn around and sell them to the FED for a 3-4% premium over what they paid the Treasury for them. They then take these profits and deposit them back into the FED and receive another 4.5% interest on the deposit of these now “excess reserves.” This little bit of paper shuffling yields about $6 Billion each month on which they earn $270 Million each year for each monthly deposit or close to $3.5 Billion each year. All this is paid for by the largess of the American taxpayer. In addition to this the taxpayer also get the privilege of paying the interest and principle due on the T-Bills originally issued by the Treasury Dept.

I fail to see how anyone could come up with could come up with a more fraudulent and legal scheme to fleece the working taxpayers while paying out a pittance to an ever expanding dependent class to buy their votes to elect the politicians who keep the whole thing in place by accepting the bribes know as campaign contributions from the very malefactors that built the corruption in the first place. And who says America isn’t a great place!?!