Diatribes - Computer, Economic & Political

This blog is really just for me. If you find something interesting on it, leave me a comment. If you disagree with something, let me know what and why. In this blog I am just putting some of my thoughts for computers, the economy, politics, and other topics in writing.

26 February 2008

Scary Liberal Facism

Glenn Beck has an article (written by Jonah Goldberg) making the claim that compared to the facism of FDR & Woodrow Wilson, Bush is nothing. Yikes.

This article is full of more bull plop than a thousand pound hereford. Just because Mussolini liked FDR doesn't mean Mussolini was right in any way. During the 30s FDR instituted the vast social changes with the help of congress (they passed the bills he wanted), and later with the blessing of the supreme court (who upheld them). Laissez-faire should be dead, laissez-fair has some horrific results from faulty assumptions - e.g. equal bargaining power, no market failures, it assumes no strategic decision making, all interested parties are always rational, all parties have perfect (or nearly) information, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. While Glenn Beck is famous for his alarmist neo-con rhetoric, defaming the man who pulled us out of the great depression AND essentially won WWII is beyond the pale. He is, and acted nothing like Hitler, Mussolini, or any autocrat this article tries to cast him as.

The espionage and sedition act were clearly bad acts, but would never stand today as implemented back then, and they became almost totally unused after WWI. Today people have broad speech protections with regard to public figures (see Sullivan v. NYT), E&S acts notwithstanding.

The US Constitution IS living. It DOES change to meet current needs, and it SHOULD change. Otherwise black americans would be worth 3/5 of what whites are, the courts would still lochnerize every economic bill passed by congress, and the federalists worst fear (that people would assume they have only rights enumerated in the bill of rights) would be a reality. No consumer protection agencies would encourage fly-by-night defrauding of customers. And the lack of privacy rights (there are none enumerated per se in the bill of rights) would give the government a big shove towards autocracy.

The times during Wilson and FDR were dark times, but not because of "facist," because of the great depression (caused by republican presidents and congressmen) and WW2 (caused by real facists). They governed over times when unemployment was huge, poverty was standard, and world wars were raging. They made some bad decisions, but are largely regarded as some of the best presidents we've ever had. They enjoyed broad public support, and led the country through huge crises. Not to minimize 9-11 attacks, or the recession following the dot com bust, but compared to the world wars and the great depression, we haven't gone through anything. What have I sacrificed for the war effort, or what have I lost because of the economic down times? Nothing. The same could not be said by most under FDR or WW.

Bush has abused his power beyond any of the listed presidents. He suspended habeas for anyone (including US Citizens) determined by the military to be an "enemy combatant." He has defied supreme court orders (see Hamdi v. Rumsfeld). He has used signing statements as line item veto (also explicitly declared unconstitutional by the supreme court). He's set up military tribunals to try citizens alike with non-citizens. He has presided over the largest illegal snooping ever known. None of the other presidents had others tortured, and we just don't know how prevalent it is now (certainly more than 3 people). None of the others used extaordinary rendition to "export" detainees to places where real torture is practiced - black op sites in libya, egypt, and saudi arabia. Not even during WWI or the New Deal did the US have such a reckless fiscal policy, or spend nearly as much (inflation ajusted) as now - the one exception being WW2.

Wilson and FDR are nothing like Bush. They both did some really stupid things (like comprimise 10 of 14 points for the league of nations, or breaking the 2 term precedent). They both also did some horrific things (E&S act, executive order 9066). They both also did great things - women's sufferage, institute the fed (maybe a mixed blessing), preserve national parks, trust busting, found the march of dimes, and presiding over the biggest crises the US has faced from the Civil war to today. Both were very smart (perhaps Wilson more than FDR), both literally worked themselves to death as presidents, and both are highly esteemed by historians and the public alike. Bush has none of these characteristics, he has presided over no crisis to the scale of either WWI, WW2, or the great depression, he is not an intellectual, he does not work half as hard, his ideals are as shallow as a sweet valley high book, and he's been nothing but divisive and ruinous.

The whole premise of the article is absurd. To seek to justify current presidential misdeeds by pointing to past misdeeds is stupid, but common. It is equally stupid to try to color the water for the democrats by showing past democrats have done stupid things, thus anyone who espouses similar ideas will repeat the past stupidities. I prefer a candidate trying to pick the good things from FDR & WW, than a candidate seeking to continue the bad things from Bush.


Blogger Aaron said...

Did you delete my comment or something?

28 February, 2008  
Anonymous jambarama said...

No, you must never have submitted it. I get an email whenever anyone posts, and I got one for your comment here: http://jambarama.blogspot.com/2007/12/2008-candidates.html but not one for this post. I haven't trashed anything. Sorry!

29 February, 2008  
Blogger Aaron said...

Damn Wifi.

I agree the article is full of crap. Glenn Beck is an idiot radio-tv personality without any real intelligent background. People on CNN should have specialized in history, or economics if they want to comment on it, not "journalism."

One minor revision, FDR did drive Congress to pass his legislation, but the fairly-conservative Supreme Court was very much against them, and overturned a lot of his legislation. It was only after the 1936 Election (I think) that they relented, because FDR was incensed enough to constitutionally propose to "pack the courts." He attempted to add one member for any that was over 55, I think it was. Though the American people overwhelmingly rejected his proposal, the Supreme Court got the message and afterwards relaxed.

I wouldn't say FDR pulled us out of the Great Depression and won WWII, that'd give him too much credit, but he did do a fairly good job in office.

Reductio ad Hitlerum. Just cause Hitler liked it (Wagner) doesn't mean it's bad. A Jewish (aren't they all) economist came up with that, I'm pretty sure. So that alone should discount half his article.

If Glenn Beck really wants to be a historian, he should really check his facts. One thing most Americans don't know is that during the height of his New Deal programs elites of the military/industrial, who advocated fascism, were planning to overthrow FDR and install a WWI-hero General in his place. GM, Chase, Standard Oil, Goodyear, all were involved in the planning. Luckily the Marine General was an honorable and decent guy and warned Congress about it, nothing came of it, but for some reason it was largely ignored by the American people.

Basic history teaches that while not always ideologically, in practice fascism was very much diametrically opposed to communism. FDR's critics, including Hitler at one point, attacked his New Deal as a plan to move the US towards communism.

Some of Glenn Beck's criticism is valid, but like most stupid talking-heads on the radio/tv he ignores more than half the story. FDR was fundamentally a proponent of civil rights. While less than admirable on the Japanese, Jews, and Italians (there were Italian concentration camps in the US that no one really talks about) he did help blacks and Native Americans a significant amount. And given the enormous crises he faced in his Presidency, I think we can give him a pass on some of his indiscretions.

29 February, 2008  
Anonymous jambarama said...

I didn't mean to suggest that the courts were always with FDR. They lochnerized every reform bill put through congress for most of his first term. Then, as you said, FDR threatened to pack the court. I don't think this would've worked though, there was enough public & political outcry, he probably wouldn't have succeeded. However, lucky for him, the chief justice switched his ideas, in a move termed "the switch in time to save nine."

Thanks for the comment.

03 March, 2008  
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10 October, 2008  

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