Keynesians, Gold Standard, Consumer Price Index, Money Stock, Nixon Shock, 1973 Oil Crisis, Gasoline Prices, Hidden Tax and Wealth Transfer

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 24th, 2012

History 101

With the Increase in the Money Supply came the Permanent Increase in Consumer Prices that Continues to this Date

Keynesians hate the gold standard.  Because it puts a limit on how much money a government can print.  Keynesians believe in the power of government to eliminate recessions.  And their cure for recession?  Inflation.  The government prints money to spend in the private economy.  To make up for the decline in consumer spending.  But it turned out this didn’t work.  As the Seventies showed.  They printed a lot of money.  But it didn’t end the recession.  It just raised consumer prices.  Because there is a direct correlation between the amount of money in circulation and consumer prices.  As you can see in the following graph. 

 Source: M2, CPI

 The consumer price index (CPI) data comes from the U.S. Department of Labor.  The data is at 5 year intervals.  The CPI is a ‘basket’ of prices for a selection of representative goods and services divided by another ‘basket’ of prices from a fixed date.  The resulting number is a price index.  If you plot these for a period of time you can see inflation (a rising graph) or deflation (a falling graph).  M2 is the money stock (seasonally unadjusted).  M2 includes currency, traveler’s checks, demand deposits, other checkable deposits, retail MMMFs, savings and small time deposits.

The Breton Woods system established fixed exchange rates for international trade.  It also pegged the U.S. dollar to gold.  The U.S. government promised to exchange U.S. dollars for gold at a rate of $35/ounce.  Making the U.S. dollar as good as gold.  This set the rules for international trade.  Made it fair.  And prevented anyone from cheating by devaluing their currency to make their exports cheaper to gain an economical advantage in international trade.  The system worked well.  Until the Sixties.  Because of the Vietnam War.  And LBJ’s Great Society.  These increased government spending so much that the U.S. government turned to printing money to pay for these.  Which depreciated the dollar.  Making it not as good as gold anymore.  So our trading partners began dumping their devalued dollars.  Exchanging them for gold at $35/ounce.  Which was a problem for the Nixon administration.  For that gold was far more valuable than the U.S. dollar.  They could print more dollars.  But once that gold was gone it was gone.  So Nixon acted to keep that gold in the U.S.

On August 15, 1971 Nixon decoupled the dollar from gold.  Known as the Nixon Shock.  Reneging on the solemn promise to exchange U.S. dollars for gold.  And ramped up the printing presses.  Which you can see in the graph.  After August 15 the money supply began growing.  And continues to this date.  With the increase in the money supply came the permanent increase in consumer prices that, also, continues to this date.  In lockstep with the growth of the money supply.

Prior to the Nixon Shock Gasoline Prices were Falling at a Greater Rate than the Rate Consumer Prices were Rising 

Since August of 1971 the U.S. has maintained a policy of permanent inflation.  Which caused a policy of permanently increasing consumer prices.  Those high prices we complain about, then, are not the fault of greedy businesses.  They’re the fault of government.  And their easy monetary policy.  In fact, if it was not for government’s irresponsible monetary policy the high price we hate most would not be as high as it is today.  In fact, because of the efficiency of the industry bringing us this one product its price has not followed the general upward trend in consumer prices.  And what is this product?  Gasoline.  Which, apart from two spikes in the last 60 years or so has either been falling or holding steady in comparison to consumer prices.

 Source: CPI, Gas $/Gal

 These prices are from DaveManual.com.  And reflect generally the price at the pump over this time period.  Using at first leaded gasoline.  Then unleaded gasoline.  Using inflation adjusted average prices.  Then chained 2005 dollars.  These prices are not exactly apples-to-apples.  But the trending information they provide illustrates two major points.  The two spikes in gas prices were due to demand greatly outpacing supply.  And that even with these two spikes gasoline prices would be far lower today if it wasn’t for the government’s policy of permanent inflation.

Note that prior to the Nixon Shock gasoline prices were falling at a greater rate than the rate consumer prices were rising.  These trends stopped in the Seventies for two reasons.  The Nixon Shock.  And the 1973 oil crisis.  When OPEC punished the U.S. for their support of Israel in the Yom Kippur war by cutting our oil supply.  These two events caused gasoline prices to spike.  But then something interesting happened with these high prices.  It brought a lot of oil producers into the market to cash in on those high prices.  This surge in production coupled with a falling demand due to the U.S. recession in the Seventies caused an oil glut in the Eighties.  Bringing prices back down.  Where they flat-lined for a decade or so while all other consumer prices continued their march upward.  Until two of the most populous countries in the world modernized their economies.  India and China.  Causing a spike in demand.  And a spike in prices.  For it was like adding another United States or two to the world gasoline market.

Inflation is a Hidden Tax that Transfers Wealth from the Private Sector to the Public Sector

Keynesians love to talk about how great the economy was during the Fifties when the high marginal tax rate was 91-92%.  “See?” they say.  “The economy was robust and growing during the Fifties even with these high marginal tax rates.  So high marginal tax rates are good for the economy.”  But they will never comment on how instrumental the gold standard was in keeping government spending within responsible limits.  How that responsible monetary policy kept inflation and consumer prices under control.  No.  They don’t see that part of the Fifties.  Only the high marginal tax rates.  Because they don’t want to return to the gold standard.  Or have any restrictions on their irresponsible ways.

Keynesians believe in the power of government to manage the economy.  And they really like to tax and spend.  A lot.  But taxing too much has consequences.  People don’t like paying taxes.  And don’t tend to vote for people who tax them a lot.  Which is why Keynesians love inflation.  Because it’s a hidden tax.  The higher the inflation rate the higher the tax.  Because government also borrows money.  They sell bonds.  That we buy as a retirement investment.  But if there’s been a good amount of inflation between the selling and redemption of those bonds it makes it a lot easier to redeem those bonds.  Because thanks to inflation those bonds are worth far less than they were when the government issued them.  Even Keynes noted that inflation was a way to transfer a lot of wealth from the private sector to the public sector.  Without many people understanding that it was even happening.

If you ever wondered why it takes two incomes to do what your father did with one income this is why.  Inflation.  This never ending transfer of wealth from the private sector to the public sector.  Leaving us less to retire on.  Making it harder to save for our children’s college education.  Not to mention the higher cost of living that shrinks our real wages.  While they tax our higher nominal wages at ever higher income tax rates (income tax bracket creep is another inflation phenomenon).  Everywhere we turn the government takes more and more of our wealth.  All thanks to LBJ increasing the government spending (for his Vietnam War and his Great Society).  And Richard Nixon decoupling the U.S. dollar from gold.  Instead of doing the responsible thing.  And cutting spending.  But much like high taxes you don’t win any friends at the voting booth by cutting spending.  So thanks to them we’ve had permanent and significant rising inflation and consumer prices ever since.  And as a result a flat to a falling standard of living.  Where soon our children may not have a better life than their parents.  Thank you LBJ and Richard Nixon.  And thank you Keynesian economics.

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LESSONS LEARNED #69: “Democrats bank on the youth vote because they’ve lost the wise vote.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 9th, 2011

When America Changed

The youth movement during the Vietnam War destroyed LBJ.  And lost the Vietnam War.  The college protests.  The explosion in drug use.  Free love.  Race riots.  American terrorists bombing government buildings.  Timothy Leary.  Rock stars promoting drug use.  Dying from drug use.  And leading the youth movement in their anti-war, anti-establishment protests.  This youth was everything their parents weren’t.  It changed America forever.  And not for the better.

The problem with the youth is that they’re young.  They are inexperienced.  And don’t know much.  But when they learn a few things, look out, they then think they now know everything.  Thanks to some manipulative college professors who fed these kids’ intellectual vanity.  Told them that they could make a difference.  And then these kids set out to change the world.  Often with violent protest.  Mob violence.  Which was new in America.  The youth protested the Vietnam War because they were drafting the youth to fight it.  Or just because protesting was fun.  But their protests only extended the war.  For the Tet Offensive almost ended the war in 1968.  The Americans hammered the NVA and the Viet Cong.  Everywhere.  And yet Walter Cronkite took to television and said the war was lost.  Further inflaming the anti-war youth movement.  Riots at the 1968 Democratic Convention.  Protests at Kent State that ended in the shooting of 4 students by national guardsmen.  Sparking violent protests on college campuses everywhere.  Our enemies in Vietnam saw this and couldn’t believe what they were seeing.  And they learned something.  They didn’t need to win the war.  They just needed not to lose the war.  So they adopted a Fabian strategy.  And sacrificed their people until the Americans grew weary of killing them.  Which they did.  Some 7 years later.

These college students grew up and became teachers.  College professors.  And have been trying to change the world ever since.  By teaching their students to be like them.  Feeding these kids’ intellectual vanity.  Making them feel important.  That they, too, can change the world.  If they do as they did.

Tell the Youth what kind of Underwear you Wear and they’ll Vote for You

Walter Cronkite eventually admitted his liberal bias.  He was probably the first that went from reporting news to influencing events.  At least, the first that mattered.  For he was the most trusted man in America.  The transformation of the mainstream media soon followed.  Gone were the days of Brinkley and Huntley.  The days of passive news coverage was over.  And the point of no return was the Watergate scandal.  Never before did the media destroy a presidential administration.  Like they did with the Republican Richard Nixon.  The media bias was set.  And became a part of liberal politics.

It was a perfect match.  The youth movement.  And the media.  Together they would advance policy and influence elections.  The media would control the message.  And advance the liberal bias of public education.  Instilled by those radicals of the Sixties.  And you can see it really come together in the 1992 presidential campaign.  Where Bill Clinton ran against the incumbent George H.W. Bush (Read my lips; no new taxes).  Who had record approval ratings a couple of years earlier with the Gulf War victory.  He was so unbeatable that no ‘first string’ Democrat candidates entered the race.  Then a few things happened.  He made a deal with the House to raise taxes in exchange for future spending cuts.  The boob.  Democrats never follow through on spending-cut promises.  And Ross Perot.

Now, according to the exit polling, Ross Perot took an equal amount of votes from each candidate.    Maybe he did.  Maybe his third-party candidacy didn’t help Clinton by taking votes away from Bush.  But he did do something else.  There was a reason Clinton wasn’t a ‘first string’ candidate.  He was flawed.  There was some dirt in his past.  Some scandal.  But no one heard about.  Because the little guy with the big ears who talked funny and had all those charts and graphs just fascinated everyone.  It took the attention away from Clinton’s past.  With a kind assist from the media.  Who with their liberal bias helped their liberal candidate.  And then Clinton went on MTV and told the kids what kind of underwear he wore.  And played the saxophone on the Arsenio Hall Show.  He was a hit with the kids.  The 18-24 demographic made up 11% of the votes.  And that 11% split 46%-33% in favor of Clinton with 21% going to Perot.  Did the youth vote push Clinton over Bush?  They definitely helped.  But more important is the lesson learned.  There are a lot of youth voters.  Historically it hasn’t been easy getting them to the polls.  Because they’re kids who don’t think about politics or elections.  They’re thinking about having fun.  But if you can get them to the polls, and if you can get them to vote for you, they can make a difference.  And Clinton showed how to do it.

Organizing the Youth Vote to Compensate for a Lack of Qualifications

In 2008, the Democrats ran the most unqualified candidate for president they ever ran.  Barack Hussein Obama.  A man that never had a real job.  Or any executive experience.  He had no foreign policy credentials.  The only thing on his resume was a partial term as a U.S. senator.  And a stint as a state senator.  Oh, and he was a community organizer.  Young, inexperienced and wholly unqualified, he was the man to beat.  It should have been an easy task.  But the Republicans let the media pick their candidate.  During the primaries the media gave John McCain glowing coverage.  Said he was what the Republican Party needed.  Someone who can reach across the aisle.  And govern as a moderate.  Of course, they were just blowing smoke.  Because the last thing they wanted was a conservative running against Obama.  Because they were sure that in a campaign between two moderates, they could get their moderate elected.

What Obama lacked in experience and qualifications he made up in organizing a campaign.  He was an excellent candidate.  And ran an excellent campaign.  He tapped into that youth vote.  Who were fed up.  Never in all of their 18-24 years were they as upset as they were during the 2008 campaign.  The economy.  Affordable housing.  Jobs.  Health care.  The Iraq War.  Things that didn’t touch their lives at all while they were ensconced in their cozy college utopias, living off the generosity of mommy and daddy.  But Obama heard them.  And told them that he heard them.  Finally, someone who cared.  And someone who wasn’t George W. Bush.

The youth would be his foot soldiers.  Coming from Chicago, that’s something you need.  He called for volunteers.  And got volunteers.  Some 4 million.  And being the kids they were they knew how to use the Internet.  They knew how to surf.  How to design websites.  How to ask for donations.  And boy did they.  They left the old man (McCain) in the dust.  The Obama campaign was awash in cash.  Even after beating a very well connected Hillary Clinton in the primary.  It may have been her turn.  But Obama never got that memo.  Besides she was old.  And had baggage (i.e., Bill Clinton).  Obama was young.  And new.  He was everything and a bag of Skittles.  First time voters turned out in droves.  And voted for him 68% of the time.  In a year with a record turnout of youth voters.

Young and Dumb wins Elections

It’s difficult to teach an old dog new tricks.  So it’s important to teach the young what you want them to know.  For once they’re thinking ‘correctly’ it’ll be hard to change their mind.  Oh, sure, it’ll happen.  As they grow up and mature.  But you’ll get a few elections out of them before that happens.  And, if you’re lucky, maybe they’ll become a teacher.  Or a public sector worker.  Or a journalist.  But the sad reality is that a lot of these people will get jobs in the private sector.  Raise families.  And eventually become conservative. 

That’s why in every election there is a ‘get out the vote’ campaign.  To get as many fist time voters as possible.  Kids who are politically unaware.  Who know nothing about history or economics.  Blank slates.  Just waiting to be initiated.  Indoctrinated.  To become good Democrat voters.  Because America is a center-right country.  And the majority of people work in the private sector.  Are politically aware.  They know history and economics.  And vote conservative.  Which is why the Democrats don’t want to campaign against a conservative candidate.  And will use the media to get as many John McCains as possible as their Republican candidate.  Because history has proven that a John McCain and a large youth vote will get a Democrat candidate elected.

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Big Government, Fraud, Enemies and Wannabe Kings

Posted by PITHOCRATES - October 27th, 2010

Joe Biden Touts the Greatness of Big Government by Citing One of its Greatest Frauds

At a fundraising stop in Manhattan, Joe Biden said this (see VPOTUS Joe Biden: Dems Will “Keep The Senate And Win The House” by Celeste Katz in The Daily Politics):

“Every single great idea that has marked the 21st century, the 20th century and the 19th century has required government vision and government incentive,” he said. “In the middle of the Civil War you had a guy named Lincoln paying people $16,000 for every 40 miles of track they laid across the continental United States. … No private enterprise would have done that for another 35 years.”

Joe Biden ain’t the sharpest knife in the drawer.  Or he just thinks no one will know any better.  That we stopped our learning with our liberal public high school diploma.  Or our liberal university degrees.  Or he is just lying to us.

The Great Northern and the Milwaukee built their transcontinental railroads with private capital.  And without all of the corruption of the government funded line Biden talked about.  For a brief recounting of the great Crédit Mobilier Scandal, see LESSONS LEARNED #35: “Not only is ignorance bliss, but it’s a godsend to Big Government.” -Old Pithy on this same website.  The pertinent part of that post follows here:

Go West, Young Man

The transcontinental railroad was making poor progress during the Civil War.  Because it was starved for capital.  No one would invest.  Few doubted that they could build it.  Even if they could, few doubted it would ever make money.  The West was mostly raw, unsettled land.  There was nothing to transport.  Nothing to earn revenue.  It was a huge investment with a huge risk.  Investors are smart when it comes to money.  And they saw the transcontinental railroad as a one-way road that their money would go down and never return.  They needed something.  Big Government.

When it comes to throwing money away on a losing investment there is but one place to go.  Uncle Sam.  With the power to tax, the federal government has huge piles of money to play with.  So here’s what happened to build that railroad.  Union Pacific (UP) created a shell company called Crédit Mobilier (CM) to finance and build the railroad.  These companies were one and the same.  Without getting too complicated, UP sold their ‘worthless’ stock to CM at par.  Now, CM being a finance and construction company, a train never had to run over the road they were building to make a profit.  Union Pacific, on the other hand, needed trains running on that new track.  They were a transportation company.  They earned a profit from transporting goods on their trains.  This meant it could take years before UP could even hope to earn a profit on the new transcontinental railroad.  CM, on the other hand, could start earning a profit with the first invoice they submitted for construction.  And they did.

CM had strong revenues.  They submitted grossly inflated construction invoices to UP.  UP added a small construction management fee and submitted them to the government.  The government paid UP.  UP paid CM.  With revenues far exceeding their costs, CM made obscene profits.  CM stock took off into the stratosphere.  Some of which was sold to Congressmen at a deep discount who in turn realized obscene capital gains if they sold their stock.  Or collected obscene dividends if they held onto their stock.  In return for this sweetheart deal, they approved all cost overruns.  Killed any legislation unfavorable to UP/CM.  Provided lucrative incentives to build track on the worst ground in the most indirect path (to maximize the railroad’s mineral rights).  Provided little to no oversight on the construction of the road (some track was built on ice, with cheap steel and flimsy wooden trestles wherever possible).  When east met west the different railroads kept on building, parallel to each other to keep billing Uncle Sam.  All paid by the public treasury.  By the taxpayer.  The little guy.  Being raped and pillaged by their own representatives.

In an effort to praise Big Government, Biden picks one of the greatest frauds ever perpetrated by Big Government.  Like I said, he isn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer. 

Big Government and Property Rights – Mutually Exclusive in Venezuela

Meanwhile, in Venezuela, Big Government is on the move.  Hugo Chavez, Obama supporter and friend of Communist Fidel Castro, is showing what Big Government does best.  Abolish property rights.  They just stole an American company (see AP’s Chavez Orders Expropriation of Owens-Illinois).  Why?

The leftist leader criticized the company’s practices in the country, saying it had been “taking away the money of Venezuelans” and exploiting local people. Chavez did not detail his complaints about the company.

Exploited the local people?  They were probably the best jobs available in the local economy.  And if it wasn’t for Owens, there wouldn’t have been a plant to provide jobs for the local people in the first place.  The lesson here?  The state can’t create (despite what Chavez or Biden says), they can only take.  And when the state is above the law, you can keep on taking.  As Chavez said.

He said in his speech that more expropriations are planned.

Like Nixon Like Obama – They Check Their Enemies List and they Check it Twice Like Kings are Wont to Do

President Obama was speaking to a group of Latinos recently on Univision Radio.  He said:

I am president.  I’m not king.  I can’t do these things just by myself.  If Latinos sit out the election instead of saying we’re gonna punish our enemies and we’re gonna reward our friends who stand with us on issues that are important to us, if they don’t see that kind of upsurge in voting in this election, then I think it’s going to be harder, and that’s why I think it’s so important that people focus on voting on November 2nd.

Punish our enemies?  (Does Obama have an enemies list like Richard Nixon?)  Reward our friends?  Oh, he wishes he was king.  So he could do what Hugo Chavez can do.  Dispense with these inconvenient elections.  To have absolute power.  But, so far, America is still free.  So the best he can do is to grow Big Government.  To reward his friends.  And punish his enemies.  Like Congress did during the Crédit Mobilier scandal.  The kind of corruption that can put a tingle up Joe Biden’s leg.

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No Love Dividend Yet from the Apology Tour

Posted by PITHOCRATES - October 4th, 2010

Add One Part Jimmy Carter

Jimmy Carter tried detente.  Make nice to our enemies.  Alienate our allies.  He pointed out the human rights abuses our allies made in their fight against communism.  But he said little about our Cold War foe who raised the bar on human rights abuses.  The plan was to love our enemy.  And they would love us.  How did it work?  During the Carter presidency, the Soviet Union introduced a nuclear first-strike doctrine.  Because they were sure their missiles would land before Carter would ever launch ours.  The Soviets, for the first time since the days of Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD), were planning to win a nuclear war.

Obama said the Arab/Muslim world hated us because of George W. Bush’s overt hostile rhetoric/actions against them.  He would talk to the president of Iran.  He would engage in diplomacy.  He would change the way the Arab/Muslim world felt about America.  And how is that going?  Not good.  Iran has a nuclear reactor about to go on line, taking them one step closer to becoming a nuclear power.  And now Syria and Iran are cozying up with each other.  A united stand against Israel.  And the United States.  And the thanks Obama got for all his nicey nice?  They dissed him.  They said any attempts at an Israeli-Palestinian peace were only a desperate attempt to boost Obama’s poll numbers.  See Reuters’ Syria’s Assad rebuffs Washington by courting Iran by Robin Pomeroy.

It would appear that the lessons of Carter’s economic policies are not the only lessons Obama ignored.  Our enemies don’t like us.  Really.

Add One Part Richard Nixon

When the Vietnam War expanded into neutral Cambodia, all hell broke out.  On the college campuses.  Four died at Kent State.  And an unpopular war grew ever more unpopular.  But Nixon was playing to win.  The Ho Chi Minh Trail fed the insurgency in the south.  And the jumping off point was in Cambodia.  Where LBJ tried to limit the war Nixon tried to win it.  Nixon would ultimately get a peace treaty in Vietnam.  Backed by the might and will of America.  But Nixon was by then so hated that he would be undone by his own paranoia.  Watergate would throw him out of office.  With him went the might and will promised to South Vietnam.  And soon there was no longer a South Vietnam.

Obama has expanded the war in Afghanistan into Pakistan.  Our ally.  The ‘Cambodia’ of that conflict.  And he’s stepping things up.  (See the Wall Street Journal’s CIA Escalates in Pakistan by Adam Entous, Julian E. Barnes and Siobhan Gorman.)  The similarities are striking.  But there’s no unrest on our college campuses.  No concerted media attack by the 3 major networks.  And yet included in the Obama administration is Hilary Clinton.  She participated in the impeachment of Richard Nixon.  Over in the Senate, John Kerry, the Vietnam War protester, is saying that you have to attack these sanctuaries.  My, how time changes some.  Or the political expediency of the moment.  Nixon’s Cambodian intrusion – bad.  Obama’s Pakistan intrusion – good.  So I guess the lesson here is that if you want to run covert military operations on the wrong side of the border, you better be a Democrat.

The anti-war people in the Democrat Party are fuming over this war doctrine.  This is something that they’d expect George W. Bush to do.  Not their guy of hope and change.  Will Obama try to appease the Left?  Give up on Afghanistan?  Like the Left did on South Vietnam?  Let’s hope not.  Politics is politics.  But Americans shouldn’t die in vain.

Add One Part LBJ

LBJ didn’t want to be the first American president to lose a war.  So he tried.  But with far too many rules of engagement.  For he was trying to win the hearts and minds of the world.  The American people, our allies in Southeast Asia and even our enemies (who were trying to kill us and our allies).  And look where it got him.

LBJ wanted it all.  He wanted to win the war in Vietnam.  And the wars against poverty and racism.  But his policies made Vietnam a quagmire.  There were race riots in the United States.  And his domestic agenda exploded government spending, causing runaway inflation in the 1970s and recession.  We call it stagflation.  It gave Carter a single term.  And he’s still bitter about that to this day.

Johnson was a big liberal.  Obama is a big liberal.  Johnson had an unpopular war.  Obama has an unpopular war.  Johnson had an aggressive domestic agenda.  Obama has an aggressive agenda.  Johnson’s Great Society programs have been abject failures (we are still fighting poverty and racism today.  And we’re still paying the hefty tab on those failed programs).  Wonder what history will say of Obama.

Mix Together for One Obama

On foreign policy, Obama came in young, inexperienced and naive.  Some would even say inept.  His apology tour hasn’t changed the hate.  Our enemies still hate us.  Go figure.  Now Iran will soon have nuclear weapons.  And the world will be less safe.  If you’re nostalgic for Jimmy Carter, here’s your chance to relive those dangerous days.

Afghanistan was the ‘good’ war.  But the Left doesn’t have ‘good’ wars.  They want out.  And Obama is trying.  He even is going Nixon.  Attacking the enemy’s safe havens.  Attack a neutral country?  Hell, I’ll attack an ally.  It’s the right military call but will the Left ever forgive him?  I guess time will tell.  As will the college campuses.

LBJ wanted to give everyone everything they wanted.  Yet they still rioted.  And it hurt.  LBJ could not understand.  Nor could he forgive.  At the end of his first full term he had had enough.  He lost Walter Cronkite.  He lost the American people.  So he said goodbye.  And the hated man faded away.  Obama has had an aggressive domestic agenda.  He gave away a lot of free stuff.  But the people who have to pay for that generosity are not amused.  And the polls show that the Democrats in Congress will ultimately pay for Obama’s generosity.  A lot of them may be looking for a new job.

But it’s not all bad for Obama.  There are some who endorse his Cap and Trade policy initiative.  Some believe in the dangers of global warming.  Osama bin Laden all but said so in one of his latest broadcasts (see Reuters’ UPDATE 1-Bin Laden criticises Pakistan relief mission by Martina Fuchs and Tamara Walid.)  So, the American people may be turning away from him, but some of our enemies still support some of his agenda.

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LESSONS LEARNED #7: “High on the endangered species list is the objective journalist.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 1st, 2010

WHEN YOU HEAR the words ‘Tet Offensive’, what do you think of?  The Battle of Hue?  The Siege of Khe Sanh?  Dead American soldiers in the U.S. Embassy compound?  The biggest American victory to date in Vietnam?  I’m guessing you’re probably thinking yes, yes, yes and no.  Or you’re asking yourself, “Vietnam?”

Tet was an all out gamble by the communists to end the war.  The war by 1967 had grown into a military stalemate with the communists unable to win any significant battlefield wins.  The bombing of North Vietnam was taking its toll.  They needed a new plan.  What plan, though, was a matter for debate.

Without going into specifics (unless you want to – I don’t mind), there was no unity of opinion in the North.  Three groups had three different plans raging from large-scale military action to negotiated peace.  The Soviet Union favored a negotiated peace.  The Chinese said screw that.  So after much discussion, debate and arrests, they adopted the Tet plan.

Briefly, Tet called for attacks on cities throughout South Vietnam to encourage the people to rise in rebellion and join the communists.  Once they did the war would be over.  Or so went the plan.  Which failed miserably.  There were no rebellions.  There were no military victories.  Just huge communist losses.  The leaders would later vow never to undertake such a plan again.  As they licked their wounds they pondered what to do in the wake of the catastrophe known as the Tet Offensive.  Then something happened.  In the United States.

Walter Cronkite gave his opinion on the air.  There is some debate whether this turned public opinion on the war.  When he said we couldn’t win the war, though, it stunned President Johnson.  He said if he lost Cronkite he lost the American people. 

The anti-war movement spread following Tet.  The communists saw this.  And they learned something.  They didn’t need to defeat the Americans in a decisive battle (which they couldn’t).  All they had to do was to wait.  And wait they did.  For 7 years.

The opinion of the most trusted man in America may have not influenced public opinion.  But when you are the most trusted man in America, your opinion probably does influence people.  A shame, really.  The world changed in 1968. 

Tet was a glorious opportunity.  The North was reeling.  If the response to Tet was an all out, no holds bar, counterattack, the U.S. could have been negotiating from a position of strength.  Great strength.  Vietnam may have ended like the Korean War.  Maybe we could have avoided another 7 years or so of war.  And, if the war did end earlier, the currency inflation (to pay for both the Great Society and the war) may not have been so bad.  Maybe Nixon wouldn’t have decoupled the dollar from gold, igniting double-digit inflation and interest rates.  Maybe Carter wouldn’t have given us malaise and stagflation.  Perhaps a group of radical students wouldn’t have stormed our embassy and taken hostages because they saw us as a ‘paper tiger’. 

Would’ve, should’ve, could’ve, yes, but you have to ask yourself.  What would have happened if the most trusted man in America didn’t say we couldn’t win the war in Vietnam?

EARLY VIETNAM STRATEGY revolved around the body count.  You counted the enemy dead.  You killed more of theirs than they killed of yours, you won the battle.  Kill enough of them and they can’t fight anymore.  And then you win the war.  Or so went the strategy. 

Counting dead bodies is kinda cold and callous.  People didn’t like it.  Among the changes in policy following Tet, the military stopped the big search and destroy operations and counting the dead for ledger columns.  But the body count lived on.

Flash-forward to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.  During the Bush (Republican) administration, the mainstream media (MSM) included body counts in their broadcasts – of American dead.  They didn’t just give numbers, they identified them by name.  They wanted to film returning coffins at Andrews Air Force Base.  Remember that?  Maybe not.  It’s hard to remember something that isn’t happening anymore.  During the Obama (Democrat) administration, the MSM appears to have suspended the body count policy.  Once the Republican was gone, apparently it was no longer fashionable to politicize dead soldiers.

IF YOU WANT to hear evidence of talking points in the MSM, you can tune into the Rush Limbaugh program on almost any day.  Limbaugh edits sound bites together and plays them on his program.  It’s a lot easier to hear the pattern in a montage than if you’re only watching one or two of the MSM’s outlets.  Even if you don’t like Limbaugh, give a listen.  They’re pretty interesting.  And entertaining.

Here’s an old montage featuring an unusual word: gravitas.  A portion of the transcript copied from his website follows.

Begin transcript.

RUSH:  This goes back to the year 2000. It’s one of the all-time great montages, this happened within a day of President Bush selecting Dick Cheney to be his vice presidential running mate.  You’re going to hear Al Hunt, Juan Williams, Claire Shipman, Steve Roberts, Vic Fazio, Jeff Greenfield, Jonathan Alter, former Senator Bob Kerrey, Margaret Carlson, Mike McCurry, Sam Donaldson, Eleanor Clift, Walter Isaacson, Mark Shields, Judy Woodruff, and Sam Donaldson — and none of these are repeated.

HUNT:  He is a man who meets all George W.’s weaknesses: lack of foreign policy experience, lack of gravitas.  I think now when Gore is trying to make the case of lack of gravitas against George W….

WILLIAMS:  Now we look and we see the son, who is seeking some gravitas, to say to people that he is an intelligent man…

SHIPMAN:  There is a lot talk they are looking at older candidates, candidates with gravitas.

ROBERTS:  He’s had health problems, uh, he’s worked for a Big Oil company, but he has the gravitas.  You can sum it up in one word: stature.

FAZIO:  I really believe that George W. Bush needed that perhaps more than anyone in recent memory because, if there is a rap about him, it may go to the gravitas issue.

GREENFIELD:  If the question about Governor Bush was one of the weight, or to use the favorite phrase of the moment, “gravitas”…

ALTER:  What he gets here is grav-i-tas, a sense of weight, competence, and administrative ability.

KERREY:  I’ve gotta strengthen it in some fashion. I’ve gotta bring gravitas to the ticket.

KERREY:  He does not need anybody to give him gravitas!

CARLSON:  It means that Bush, you know, Gore has experience and gravitas.

McCURRY:  I think he also needs to demonstrate some gravitas, too.

DONALDSON:  …that he was put on the ticket, but by former President Bush, to give gravitas to the ticket.

CLIFT:  Well, Dick Cheney brings congeniality and he brings gravitas.

ISAACSON:  He does seem to bring some vigor as well as gravitas and stature to the ticket.

HUNT:  It’s called “gravitas.”

NOVAK: Right.

SHIELDS A little gravitas!

WOODRUFF:  You certainly have gravitas tonight.

DONALDSON:  Displayed tonight a certain gravitas.

RUSH:  Now, I don’t care. I don’t care how it happens. I don’t care whether they all got together and decided, or one person used it and they all decided to mimic. They are who they are, and that montage is a good illustration.  

End transcript.

George W. Bush has a B.A. in history from Yale.  An MBA from Harvard.  Military experience (though no combat experience).  He was a businessman.  He worked in the energy industry.  Owned part of the Texas Rangers.  Was governor of Texas.  And won reelection to a second 4-year term. 

Obama has a law degree.  Was a community organizer.  State senator for 7 years.  U.S. senator for 3 years.  No executive experience.  No business experience.  No military experience. 

Perhaps both candidates needed to add ‘gravitas’ to their ticket.  In comparing the experience, though, one appears to be lighter than the other.  But when they talked about Joe Biden adding gravitas to the ticket, they didn’t make it sound like Obama was an incompetent boob.  Why?  Probably because it wasn’t in the talking points.

A BLIND MAN can see it.  There’s bias.  Opinion and political activism is taking over objective journalism in the MSM.  It’s been a gradual process.  It started in the 60s.  And continues to grow.  When will it stop?  Hard to say.  Until it does, there is one objective voice left in the crowd.  FOX News.  Which is why the political Left (and the MSM) attacks it so vehemently.

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FUNDAMENTAL TRUTH #5: “When it comes to regretting past choices, liberals lead conservatives when it comes to their vote.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 16th, 2010

A LOT OF conservatives regretted voting for Richard Nixon.  But not for the reason you think.  If the election was today with everything we know now, conservatives probably wouldn’t elect him.  Even if you take Watergate out of the picture.  You see, something changed during his presidency.  And it wasn’t the voters. 

He changed.  The conservative candidate governed as a liberal.  He embraced Keynesian economic policy (Big Government and big spending to solve all problems).  Deficit spending and inflation led to the end of responsible government (the decoupling of the dollar from gold so they could keep printing money).  If this was the conservative platform going into the election, few conservatives would have voted for the ticket.

This is one type of regret.  Regret at being tricked or duped.  This is when a person’s core beliefs don’t change.  It’s when their candidate changed.  But there is another type of regret.

THE POPULAR CONCEPTION liberals have of conservatives is that they are a bunch of old, stodgy white men.  Out of touch with reality and mired in the past.  Whereas liberals think of themselves as young.  Cool.  Progressive.  Their eyes are open to what the future can be, not to what has been.

Young.  That’s key.  Many liberals are young.  Or, better said, a lot of the young are liberals.  What else can you say about the young?  Many are in school.  Many don’t have a job.  Many aren’t married yet.  Many aren’t raising a family yet.  See the pattern?  They’re young and idealistic, i.e., liberal, because they can be.  When they start working, get married, buy a house, raise children, etc., they find they can’t be so idealistic anymore.

Binge drinking, getting high and bedding coeds was okay in college for you, but you’re not so keen on your daughters following your example.  In fact, you kinda gloss over that part of your life when talking to your kids about your past.  When the weight of being a parent really hits, you begin to regret all the hell you put your parents through.

In college you were all for lowering the drinking age, legalizing drugs, keeping abortion legal, taxing the rich to provide free benefits for the poor (and college students), etc.  As a parent, though, you’d like to see the drinking age raised to 35 and probably voted against allowing medical marijuana.  When you’re working 40, 50 or even 60 hours a week to provide for your family, you start looking at all that withholding tax.  And you’re not thinking about how you’re helping those who need help.  You’re probably thinking things like ‘what the f***’ and ‘get a job you leech’.  And, if you have daughters, you’d probably like to see chastity belts brought back into vogue (even though YOUR daughters will keep their chastity until their wedding night – when they’re 35).

GROWING UP IS a learning process.  Children think they can eat third helpings of cake and ice cream, washed down with glasses of super sweet fruit punch and then run out and play in the hot summer sun.  Those of you who have had to clean up the resulting mess know that eating and drinking like that does not end well.  Children learn, too.  In time.  Until they do, parents watch out for them.

Getting a driver’s license is special.  It severs the chains of childhood.  You can go places and do things.  Without your parents.  You can speed, drive around railroad crossing barricades and hang out on a Friday night drinking beer while driving.  And other dumb things.  There’s a reason car insurance is expensive for young drivers.  Because they do stupid things behind the wheel.  But they learn.  In time.  Until they do, the police are there to help them along.

Then these kids turn 18, graduate from high school, leave home and go to college.  And the party is only starting.  Some things never change.  Students are still binge drinking, getting high and bedding coeds.  And, of course, voting.

WE CHANGE AS we grow.  Children think about ice cream and cake.  Teenagers think about getting their driver’s license.  College students think about partying and trying to change the world (sometimes to enhance their partying).  Parents think about doing what’s best for their kids.  The middle-aged start to think about retirement and holding on to what they have (because most think that Social Security will not be there for them).  The elderly think about their mounting medical concerns and medical costs.

Where we are in the growth process influences our vote.  More kids (teenagers and early 20s) want to lower the drinking age, legalize drugs and tax the ‘rich’ than grownups.  More grownups want to lower taxes and cut government spending than kids.  But grownups were once kids.  They thought and prioritized like kids, too.  So it is likely that many voting conservative today voted liberal when they were a kid.  And they’ve grown to regret some of their votes.

This is the other kind of regret.  It’s when we change.  And realize the consequences of our previous votes.  Votes made for the moment, not the future.  And now that we have reached that future our youth helped to create, it is often not what we want anymore.  But the damage is done.  And it can’t be easily undone.  But you can’t tell this to kids today.  They won’t listen.  Just as you didn’t when you were their age.

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