Friday, September 21, 2007


by UncleAbe and PraetorOne
Edited by BibleBelted

Who in the hell does George W. Bush think he's kidding?   Was it my imagination or did I actually hear the Pretender and Thief shedding more  crocodile tears because a liberal organization dared to question the veracity of a general who, for all intents and purposes, is little more than an obedient puppet for an administration that has begun to believe its own lies and half truths?  For those of you who missed the president's (20 September 2007) drivel--and you were God-awful lucky if you did--the Demander and Thief had the audacity to criticize the folks at Move On for daring to question a general whose rectum is little more than an opening through which the Bush Administration can insert its hand whenever it needs a ventriloquist's dumbly to defend the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq which has now devolved into a full blown religious civil war.  

Oh.  I'm sorry.  

The Administration doesn't like to call it a religious civil war.  That might be too untidy, perhaps a tad too honest.   The current Orwellian doublespeak for what we have created in Iraq is "an ethno-sectarian conflict over power and territory."  Or if you will, a religious civil war replete with ethnic cleansing.

But I  seem to have digressed.  Listening to this President complain because the folks at Move On dared to criticize a doctored report--which by the way was more authored by Bush and Cheney than it was by General Petraeus--is a little like listening to Adolf Hitler deliver a lecture on the evils of violence and antisemitism.  Even as Bush delivered his usual half-baked platitudes about insulting the military I couldn't help but think that there's a huge difference between criticizing the Bush/Petraeus report and what George W. Bush has done to our military, and in my humble opinion someone should take this morally deficient president aside and explain that there is a difference between the kind of criticism that we heard from Move On and the kind of Mass Murder that has been committed by the Neocons in the name of oil, money, and empire. 

Nearly 4,000 American troops dead.  Nearly 21,000 wounded.  Thousands upon thousands of innocent Iraqis killed, maimed, and battle scarred.  That is the direct result of the Bush Administration's illegal invasion and occupation.  Now you tell me.  Which is more damaging?  Words which openly question the competency and honesty of an incompetent and dishonest Administration and its all too many Mortimer Snerds, or just condemnation of a domineering president and an acquiescent general who regurgitates the Demander and Thief's rhetoric on demand? 

And while we're at it, will someone please tell me just why in the hell our elected officials should take the time to condemn justified political speech?   Granted, Move On was audacious enough to refer to the general as General Betrayus, but let us talk turkey here my friends.  The General has betrayed us.   He has betrayed the American people and in refusing to question the congenital malignancy of our sociopathic president; he has betrayed the very troops who he and the Administration so hypocritically claim to support.  Moreover I find it interesting that the same party which slimed John Kerry's war record through the Swift Boat Liars association, and which denigrated the reputation of Vietnam Veteran/triple amputee max Cleland should opt to condemn Move On for far less caustic criticism.  Did we see a Congressional condemnation of the Swift Boat Liars?  No.  Did we see a Congressional condemnation of the goons and thugs who compared Max Cleland to Osama bin Laden?  No.

But that's what it takes to be a Republican today:  duplicity and arrogance. 

These people are perfectly willing to condemn minor examples of what they themselves do on a regular basis.  Comparing Max Cleland to Osama Bin Laden; telling us that you're either with them or with the terrorists:  Are these or are these not the same kinds of tactics that were employed by Joe McCarthy during the abominable Red Scare of the 1950s?   You'd think that in the 53 years the Republicans would have learned a few new tricks--or better yet--developed a sense of decency.  In 1954 Joe McCarthy accused the United States military of harboring communists.  Prior to that he had turned America into the 20th version of 1692 Salem, creating a witch hunt climate in which people were persecuted on the basis of mere suspicion.  During that time McCarthy himself played the part of a  genuine witch hunter with great enthusiasm, less concerned about uncovering communists than he was in using the publicity and propaganda which stemmed from his own actions to bolster his political career and personal popularity.   In other words, Joe McCarthy was more interested in Joe McCarthy than he was in the protection of his own country.  Having unleashed the dogs of persecution in the arts and entertainment community he turned on the churches and finally on the United States military.  Does anyone out there remember the statement:  "Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessnesses...Let us not assassinate this lad further, Senator.  You have done enough.  Have you no sense of decency?"*   Those words were delivered by Boston Attorney Joe Welch and they were heard by millions of Americans during televised Senate hearings.  They also brought about the long overdue fall of Senator Joe McCarthy as a political force in this country. 

I think it's time that we ask the same question of the Republicans once again.  As in the 1950s the right wing witch hunters and McCarthyites have again resorted to sliming those who would ask legitimate questions, to smearing those who would offer justifiable or even constructive criticism.  I think we all need to remember that the criticism leveled by Move On was not so directed against the General as it was against the Bush administration for using the General as a front to offer a doctored report which had been manipulated by George W. Bush himself.   We also need to remember that the Administration has created arbitrary standards which are designed to disguise the actually damage which is currently taking place in Iraq.  For example.  If an Iraqi is shot in the back of the head that counts as a terrorist attack.  If an Iraqi is shot in the face that particular attack is counted as a mere murder having nothing to do with terrorism.   It is through tricks, manipulations and machinations such as these that George W. Bush and his War Crime Syndicate have been able to fudge the data and present phony progress reports which are designed to both, the peoples representatives and Senators, and the citizenry itself. 

If anything Move On was not harsh enough in its criticism of George W. Bush himself.   Perhaps Move On should have openly stated that George W. Bush has betrayed us.  He betrayed us when he manufactured phony evidence during the build up to the war.  He and his Neocon cronies betray the troops when they send these battle weary young men and women back to Iraq again, and again, and again for multiple tours of duty without proper rest and relaxation between tours of duty; he betrayed the troops when he sent them into battle without sufficient provisions; he betrays the American people every time he tries to sell out Constitutional protections in favor of security, and God knows that he betrays the people, the Constitution, and the troops when he claims personal and political powers more appropriate to a Francisco Franco or a Benito Mussolini. 

In fact...the more that I think about it...George W. Bush is just an ugly betray with a name and a beady-eyed face connected to it

* For a transcript of the Army-McCarthy Hearing please click on the following:
For a general history of the fall of Joe McCarthy please click on

Thursday, September 20, 2007


What can I say? It's about time that a church lost its tax free status for sticking its nose into a political issue.

One of the fair trade offs that we make in this society is the practice of allowing religious organizations to "spread the word" and offer humanitarian in a tax free environment as long as they don't use their considerable resources to influence political events. In the case above it seems to me that the Methodist Church in question crossed the line when it decided to wrap itself in a cloak of Christian hypocrisy, declaring a political issue a moral issue, and then using its considerable resources to campaign against the civil liberties of gays and lesbians, a group of people which the Methodists clearly love to hate.

As far as I'm concerned the Methodists in question got exactly what they were asking. Now if we would only take the above story as an example and apply it across the board to other churches which use their financial and political power to influence elections and political issues. A good [place to begin would be with the Catholic Church which seems bound and determined to replace American Democracy with a Vatican-based theocracy. Or, perhaps an even better place to begin, would be with some of our loonier, Protestant Fundamentalists who want to turn America into a Reich wing theocracy in which the words, theology, and practices of Jesus Christ are replaced with the words of Jesus Christ and the theology and policies of Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini.

Frankly I'm sick of my tax dollars going to Historical and Constitutional revisionists who seem to think that religious tyranny is better than representative democracy. It's time to hold these people, these groups and organizations accountable. If they're going to undermine the work of the Constitutional Framers then they don't deserve to use our tax dollars to do so.

Peace and Enlightenment always

Wednesday, September 19, 2007



By PraetorOne and Donatra

Sometimes you just have to wonder where George W. Bush gets his ideas.  Shortly after the attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center, the Demander and Thief issued a statement in which he maintained that the oceans no longer provided adequate protection.   Well, Mister Bush, we have news for you.   If you had studied your American history instead of guzzling booze and snoring illegal substances, you might have learned that the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans have never offered complete safety. 

Need we remind you, Mister Bush, that prior to the American Revolution, the American (then British) colonies took part in the Seven Years War (AKA The French and Indian War) which, for all intents and purposes was nothing more nor less than an 18th Century Global conflict?   Need we remind you, Mister Bush that the Atlantic Ocean didn't provide a great deal of protection from English warships during the American Revolution?  And do we really have to remind you of the painful and humiliating fact that in 1814, during the War of 1812, British troops actually burned Washington DC? 

And it gets even worse.  We are all familiar with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, but our history books have either forgotten, or deliberately chose to omit, references to Japanese attacks on the American West Coast?  No, I am not making this up.

The attack of June 21, 1942, had been provoked two months earlier, in April, when Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle and his squadron of B-25 bombers attacked Tokyo. The raid, a jab in response to the body blow at Pearl Harbor, infuriated the Japanese. Now the enemy was about to jab back, sending two I-class long-range submarines to harass naval and commercial shipping off the Northwest coast. The I-25, under Commander. Meiji Tagami, had torpedoed a freighter the day before but failed to sink it.

On the evening of June 21, Tagami snuck the I-25 past a minefield under a screen of fishing vessels. He surfaced in the dark, and his crew used its 5.5-inch deck gun to fire toward land. Relying on faulty intelligence, Tagami thought he was dropping shells on an American submarine base. "I did not use any gun sight at all—just shot," he said later.

The resulting explosion roused personnel at Fort Stevens from their weeks of tedious duty and instantly erased their complacency. Searchlights went on, and lookouts spotted the submarine at sea. Senior Duty Officer Robert M. Huston decided not to return fire, since his plotters erroneously gauged the sub to be beyond the range of the fort's main guns and he didn't want to fruitlessly give away his battery positions. His men were frustrated, but the decision was prudent." [1]

Luckily the attack caused little damage, but it does provide an example which undermines the president's half baked theory that the oceans were ever an adequate protection against a determined attacker. 

Nor was this the only Japanese attack on the Japanese mainland. 

"The Japanese didn't give up. In September the I-25 was back along the Oregon coast, carrying a disassembled seaplane in a pod in front of its conning tower. After being assembled, the plane was catapulted from the ship on the morning of September 9, and the pilot dropped incendiary bombs over the thick Oregon forests, intending to start fires. However, unusually heavy rains had drenched the woods, and the fires were quickly controlled. It was the first aerial bombing of the continental United States by a foreign power." [2]

And there was more to follow.

"Beginning two years later, increasingly desperate Japanese commanders tried yet another tactic. From Japan's home islands they released 33-foot-wide hydrogen balloons calibrated to ascend to 30,000 feet and travel the jet stream all the way across the Pacific. Each balloon was equipped with a small bomb that would drop and detonate automatically when the balloon descended to a certain altitude. Again, the intention was to ignite fires across the Western United States.

A few of the 9,000 balloons released between November 1944 and April 1945 did make it across. Some traveled as far as Wyoming, and one reportedly reached Detroit, but they did little damage. One potentially hazardous attack occurred on March 10, 1945, when a balloon descended near the laboratory in Hanford, Washington, that made plutonium for the Manhattan Project. It knocked out power to the pumps that cooled Hanford's nuclear reactors, but backup power, fortunately, kicked in almost immediately.

The worst incident took place near Bly, Oregon, in May 1945, when the Rev. Archie Mitchell and his wife were taking five Sunday-school children for a picnic in the woods. One of the children found a balloon partly intact. While Mitchell was returning to his car, his wife Elsie and the children hurried to examine the find and were killed when it exploded. They were the only deaths from enemy action on the American mainland during the war." [3]

By now you may be wondering why I a discussing attacks on the American Mainland in a post about bravery and torture.  Well, dear readers, I am doing so because it is appropriate to the topic at hand.

It seems to me that the American people have gone through an obvious, and I might add, despicable change in character.  If you read the article from which I extracted the above quotes you will note that the government felt that it was in our best interest to keep incidents such as these from the American people in general because it was felt that those incidents might cause a panic among the general population.  Today, we have evolved--or should I say devolved to the point where the government (read "the Bush Administration") floods us with misinformation which is specifically designed to frighten and terrorize us.  Indeed there are times when one might think that the only secrets this Administration would ever willingly keep quiet are those which involve embarrassing and/or illegal activities.  But if it's designed to frighten us, if it's intended to manipulate and cajole us into behaving like frightened children with the primary purpose of making us give up our civil liberties, there isn't anything this Administration won't use to get its way.  Whether it's designed to p[lace more power in the hands of our Fuhrer select, or if it's geared to manipulate the American people into approving torture and the undermining of basic Constitutional liberties, there isn't anything this Administration won't do or say to propagandize the American citizenry.

It wasn't always so.  While our Executive Sociopath seems to delight in war, death, pain and suffering, our first President, another George had an entirely different attitude towards torture and the treatment of those who fought against the American cause during the War for Independence.

Said Washington:

"Sir: You are intrusted with a Command of the utmost Consequence sequence to the Interest and Liberties of America. Upon your Conduct and Courage and that of the Officers and Soldiers detached on this Expedition, not only the Success of the present Enterprize, and your own Honour, but the Safety and Welfare of the Whole Continent may depend. I charge you, therefore, and the Officers and Soldiers, under your Command, as you value your own Safety and Honour and the Favour and Esteem of your Country, that you consider yourselves, as marching, not through an Enemy's Country; but that of our Friends and Brethren, for such the Inhabitants of Canada, and the Indian Nations have approved themselves in this unhappy Contest between Great Britain and America. That you check by every Motive of Duty and Fear of Punishment, every Attempt to plunder or insult any of the Inhabitants of Canada. Should any American Soldier be so base and infamous as to injure any Canadian or Indian, in his Person or Property, I do most earnestly enjoin you to bring him to such severe and exemplary Punishment as the Enormity of the Crime may require. Should it extend to Death itself it will not be disproportional to its Guilt at such a Time and in such a Cause: But I hope and trust, that the brave Men who have voluntarily engaged in this Expedition, will be governed by far different Views. that Order, Discipline and Regularity of Behaviour will be as conspicuous, as their Courage and Valour. I also give it in Charge to you to avoid all Disrespect to or Contempt of the Religion of the Country and its Ceremonies. Prudence, Policy, and a true Christian Spirit, will lead us to look with Compassion upon their Errors without insulting them. While we are contending for our own Liberty, we should be very cautious of violating the Rights of Conscience in others, ever considering that God alone is the Judge of the Hearts of Men, and to him only in this Case, they are answerable. Upon the whole, Sir, I beg you to inculcate upon the Officers and Soldiers, the Necessity of preserving the strictest Order during their March through Canada; to represent to them the Shame, Disgrace and Ruin to themselves and Country, if they should by their Conduct, turn the Hearts of our Brethren in Canada against us. And on the other Hand, the Honours and Rewards which await them, if by their Prudence and good Behaviour, they conciliate the Affections of the Canadians and Indians, to the great Interests of America, and convert those favorable Dispositions they have shewn into a lasting Union and Affection. Thus wishing you and the Officers and Soldiers under your Command, all Honour, Safety and Success."  [4]

That profound statement was issued by George Washington  at his Camp at Cambridge on September 14, 1775.  Moreover, on Christmas Day, Washington ordered his troops to give refuge to hundreds of surrendering Hessian troops, encouraging his soldiers to "treat them with humanity."  [5]

Thomas Paine expressed a similar sentiment when he said:

"An avidity to punish is always dangerous to liberty. It leads men to stretch, to misinterpret, and to misapply even the best of laws." [6]

What can I say?  They were good words then and they are good news now.  Granted, the 18th Century did not possess the kinds of weapons that we possess today, but let's face the facts.  War is hell--at least to a sane person.  But who said the key movers and shakers in this Administration were sane?  In a single swoop they have managed to undermine the Constitution while making a mockery out of the basic tenants of Western Civilization.  Indeed, their attitude seems to suggest that the only way to defeat terrorism (note I did not use the word terror) is to become more brutal and more rapacious than any enemy we can imagine.   One only has to ask oneself, "what would George Washington have thought of rendering?  Of Abu Ghraib, of Guantanamo, of rendering individuals to countries that employ torture as a standard method of law enforcement?  I think it is safe to assume that Washington, along with Paine, Jefferson, et al would have been disgusted.  Disgusted by the Shrub's gleeful attitude towards death and by the manner in which he has used fear, unreasonable terror, on a regular basis to undermine our Constitution in the creation of a unitary executive; or, if you prefer, right wing dictatorship under Bush, Cheney, and the Necons. 

You might argue that the British weren't as brutal or as savage as the Taliban and Al Quaida, but as I stated before, the British proved how mild mannered they were in 1914 when they burned down America's Capitol.  And let's not forget--ALL wars create their share of atrocities:  rape, pillaging, what today we might refer to as war crimes.  The primary difference, at least in my opinion, appears to be a change in both, our leaders and in our people.  While our more enlightened leaders have encouraged us to be brave, the Bush Administration is determined to make us tremble and cower in fear, to sell our liberties for the illusion of security.  That's quite a change from 1814 when Dolly Madison, upon learning that the British were heading for Washington, took up a sword and swore to defend herself against the approaching enemy.  That's quite a difference from our war dodging president, who, upon learning we had been attacked by terrorists on 911, went into a state of paralyzing terror in front of a class room full of children.  And while George Washington is a study in both, the moral and the courageous, the current George in the white house is a coward who managed to avoid serving his country on several occasions and who views soldiers as disposable cogs in a machine. 

As for the people, we have changed too.  In the 200 plus years since the American Revolution we have become as complaisant as cows on  milking machines.  So many of us respond to unreasonable, perhaps even phony, terror alerts, to rhetoric designed to create fear and terror.   You have to wonder why.  Oh Jeez.  I don't know.  Could it be--just as a wild guess--the kind of "news" (some might say propaganda) that is repeatedly shoved down our throats by the conservative corporate media? 

When the Bush administration decided to launch an illegal invasion based on phony evidence, the print and electronic media in  this country, with only a few, independent exceptions, seldom questioned the Administration's facts or motives.  As in the previous Gulf War, those individuals who obtained their news from television (FOX in particular) were the least informed among the population.  As one channel-surfed the various Network and Cable outlets one couldn't help but wonder if virtually every news outlet on the proverbial boob tube had been purchased overnight by the Bush Administration.  The Administration was given carte blanche to spread its propaganda and those who dared to question the validity of his rhetoric or who went to far as to protest against the impending war crimes, were quickly and efficiently marginalized, given only the slightest amount of coverage and often challenged by the so called television journalists who were behaving more like Paul Josef Goebbels than Edward R. Murrow.  Truth was a rare commodity.  Outright lies were common place.   And that was / is dangerous.

Consider the following quote by Peter Finch (Howard Beale) from Network: 

"You people and sixty-two million other Americans are listening to me right now.  Because less than three percent of you people read books.  Because less than fifteen percent of you read newspapers.  Because the only truth you know is what you get over this tube.  Right now, there is a whole, an entire, generation that never knew anything that didn't come out of this tube.  This tube is the gospel, the ultimate revelation.   This tube can make or break Presidents, Popes, Prime Ministers.  This tube is the most awesome, god-damned propaganda force in the whole godless world and woe to us if it ever falls in the wrong hands...And when the twelfth largest company in the world controls the most awesome, god-damned propaganda force in the whole godless world, who knows what shit will be peddled for truth on this network.  So you listen to me!  Television is not the truth!  Television is a god-damned amusement park.  Television is a circus, a carnival, a traveling troupe of acrobats, story tellers, dancers, singers, sideshow freaks, lion tamers, and football players.  We're in the boredom killing business.  So if you want the truth, go to your God, go to your gurus, go to yourselves, because that's the only place you're ever gonna find any real truth.  But man, you're never gonna get any truth from us.   We'll tell you anything you want to hear.  We lie like hell..We'll tell you any shit you want to hear.  We deal in illusions, man.  None of it is true.  Buy you people sit there, day after day, night after night, all ages, colors, creeds--we're all you know.  you're beginning to believe the illusions we're spinning here,  You're beginning to think that the tube is reality and that your own lives are unreal.  You do whatever the tube tells you.  You dress like the tube, you eat like the tube, you raise your children like the tube.  You even think like the tube.  This is mass madness.  You maniacs.  in God's name, you people are the real thing, we are the illusion.  So turn off your television sets.  Turn them off right now.  Turn them off and leave them off.  Turn them off right in the middle of this sentence I am speaking to you now.  Turn them off!" [7]

Is it any wonder the American people behaved like trained, Pavlovian dogs?  For all intents and purposes our corporate media had entered into a symbiotic relationship with the Bush Administration.   The Administration needed the media to spread its misleading propaganda.   The media didn't want to risk its reputation (read corporate advertisers)  by challenging a (then) popular president.  Moreover, the media recognized that fear and blood produce both, readers and viewers.   Succinctly stated, the media were perfectly willing to help the president spread his fabrications as long as the media benefited from an increase in advertising, readers, and viewers.   We needn't wonder why the American aren't as courageous as they once were.  Both, the media and the politicians have learned to play us like finely tuned violins.    How can you produce a populace which asks questions and refuses to be intimidated when the media and our political leaders are bound and determined to keep us in a perpetual state of fear?  How can we expect to live in a vibrant, democratic Republic with a respect for constitutional values when constitutional freedoms and liberties are routinely touted as threats to our very existence? 

In a very real sense, PraetorOne deals with this issue on a daily basis.  He was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes when he was a child.  He's been testing his blood sugar and giving himself insulin injections ever since.   For those of you who aren't familiar with Type 1 Diabetes, it is a condition in which, for reasons unknown, the immune system attacks the insulin producing cells in the pancreas.  As a result Praetor tests himself and takes regular doses of insulin as often as six times a day.  Does he allow this condition to frighten him?  No.  Does he allow his condition to control his life?  Of course not. He does what he has to do.  He follows his doctor's instructions.  He watches his diet.  He exercises on a regular basis.  He does what he has to but he doesn't allow the diabetes to control his life.

Sadly the American people have developed a kind sociological diabetes. We're afraid of everything, and it serves our media and our politicians well.  We don't only take the practical steps required to survive.  We panic.  We stop living.  We give up civil liberties in exchange for liberty.  We refuse to investigate, to challenge what our leaders tell us.  We are content to allow our politicians, our televisions, our websites, and our books, magazines, and newspapers to do our thinking for us.   Couching this in terms of diabetes, that isn't taking the proper precautions.  That's locking yourself in your house, over-medicating, and starving yourself to death because you're afraid your diabetes will kill you! 

In a quote often attributed to Benjamin Franklin, we are told that a nation which gives up freedom for security will lose both and deserves neither. [8]  By the same token, Thomas Jefferson told us that you cannot sustain a democratic (small "d") form of government without an enlightened and educated citizenry.  [9]

They were good axioms to live by then and they are good axioms to live by today.   What else can one add, except perhaps that George Washington was a better roll model than George W. Bush?


[1]  From American
Forgotten but True:  Japan Attacks American Mainland
by Jack Kelly
June 21, 2007
Today's date:  14 September 2007
Copyright 2006 by American Heritage

[2]  Ibid

[3]  Ibid

[4]  From NION:  Never in Our Names
More on the George Washington Quote

by Mister Helper
February 23 2007
Today's date, 14 September 2007


Will Terrorism Rewrite the Laws on War?

by Alex Markels
September 7, 2007

Today's date, 14 September2007

[6]  From Quotes I Found and Liked
Posted by Ritchie on July 31, 2007
Today's date, 14 September 2007

[7[  From Greatest Films
Network (1976)
Review by Tim Dirks
Created in 1996-2007
Copyright by Tim Dirks
Today's date, 18 September 2007

[8]  From  Helium:  Where Knowledge Rules
Will Our Society Be Safer With Decreased Liberties?
By Dean Schutt
Copyright 2007 by Helium
Today's Date:  18 September 2007

[9] From Running on Empty
Thomas Jefferson's "Informed Citizenry"
Posted by Philip Waring
August 26, 2006
Today's date, 18 September 2007

Noli nothis permittere te terere
Jolan Tru
PraetorOne and Donatra

Thursday, September 6, 2007


When I was a kid the Christian Right used to swear that it would be happy with a moment of silence in our public schools.   Then they wanted student led prayer.  Then they wanted prayers led by teachers.

When I was a kid the Christian right used to swear that it was primarily interested in stopping abortion, contraption seldom coming into the discussion.   Then they wanted to eliminate certain kinds of contraception because they believed those forms of contraception destroyed life at the moment of conception.  Now the truth has finally come out.  They want to eliminate contraception all together and force their sexual mores onto the entire population, namely celibate lifestyles until marriage.

This, of course is just another stab at an establishment of religion.  In a Christian Republic, or a theocracy if you will, the schools would be geared up to spread the Christian faith.  So of course they're going to take what they can get piece by incremental piece.  In a Fundamentalist Theocracy, gays and lesbians would become second class citizens--if not subjects of public execution--so of course the Fundamentalist have to begin by denying gays and lesbians employment, marriage, and adoption rights.  In a Fundamentalist theocracy women would be subservient to men, and to achieve that end the Fundamentalists want to take away a woman's right to control her own body and destiny.  They began with abortion.   They they expanded their demands to include certain forms of contraception.  Then they revealed their true colors, exclaimed that God wants us to live celibate lives until marriage, when in fact what they really mean, is "honey, back to the bad old days of knocked up, barefoot, and no control over your own body and destiny."   The fitly Fundamentalist bastards know that they can't effect an outright theocracy all at once because that really would violate the Constitution, so what they're trying to  impose the various beliefs of their Fundamentalist "Christianity" piecemeal on a nation of approximately 300 million people.   To which I ask, why should a maximum of 28 percent of the American people, of a particular group of one particular faith be allowed to impose ANY of its values on the nation as a whole?  
If they want to pray (some might say that they prey) let them do so in designated times and places as other extracurricular groups are required to do.  If they don't ant to use contraception they should get out their thermometers and hope to God the damned thing is properly calibrated.  If they want to be celibate they themselves know what is best for them and how they can best maintain their celibate lifestyles until marriage.  If they are offended by homosexuality they can stop snooping n what their gay or lesbian neighbors are doing and not engage in homosexual acts.   In other words, it's about time that these Pecksniffian  Puritans began to mind their own business and removed the motes from their own eyes.
Because I for one, am getting a little sick and tired of being told how to live, think, and behave by a vocal minority with the fanaticism of a Reverend Jim Jones and the collective IQ of a used condom. 

Saturday, September 1, 2007



[1] In the Time of Silent Cal
by Jules Abels
Page 229
Published by GP Putnam's Sons
Copyright Jules Abel 1969

[2[ Ibid
pages 231-233

[3] Ibid

[4]  Ibid

[5] Ibid
Page 238

[6]  An American History, 4th Edition
by Rebecca Brooks Gruver
Published by Alfred A Knopf, NY
Copyright by  Newbery Award Records Inc

[7] In the Times of Silent Cal
Jules Abels
page 241
Published by GP Putnam's Sons
Copyright by Jules Abels 1969

[8]  The Growth of the American Republic Volume II
50th Anniversary Edition
by Samuel Eliot Morrison, Henry Steel Commager, and William E. Leuchtenburg
Published by Oxford University Press
Copyright 1980 by Oxford University Press

[9]  In the Time of Silent Cal
by Jules Abels
page 262
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons
Copyright by Jules Abels 1969

[10]  Gusmorino, Paul A.  III Main Causes of the Great Depression
Gusmorino World (May 13, 1996) Online, Internet
September 1, 2007

[11] Ibid

[12] Who Rules America?
Power In America

, Income, and Power

by G. William Domhoff
September 2005 (updated December 2006)

Gusmorino, Paul A., III. "Main Causes of the Great Depression."
Gusmorino World
(May 13, 1996).
Online. Internet: .

[14] 1776-1975 American History Guidebook; Bicentennial Edition
page 431
originally Published as Webster's Guide to American History,
Copyright 1971 by Encyclopedia Britannica
Republished with additional material in 1975
by Bobley Publishing Corporation
Copyright 1975 by Bobley Publishing Company

[15] The Bicentennial Almanac
page 318
Calvin D. Linton, PhD editor in chief
Published by Thomas Nelson Inc Publishers
Copyright 1975 by Thomas Nelson Inc

[16]  The History of Wisconsin Volume V
War, a New Era, and Depression, 1914-1940
pages 254-355
Paul W. Glad
Published and Copyright by State historical Society of Wisconsin

[17]  An American History 4th Edition
Rebecca Brooks Gruver
Published by Alfred a Knopf, NY
copyright 1985 by Newbery Award Records Inc

[18]  The Growth of the American Republic Volume II
50th Anniversary Edition
page 472
by Samuel Eliot Morrison, Henry Steel Commager, and William E. Leuchtenburg
Published by Oxford Press
Copyright 1980 by Oxford University Press

[19]  The History of Wisconsin Volume V
War, a New Era, and Depression, 1914-1940
by Paul W. Glad
Page 735-736
Copyright and Published by The State Historical Society of Wisconsin

[20]  The Oxford History of the American People
by Samuel Eliot Morrison
Published by Oxford University Press
Copyright 1965 by Samuel Eliot Morison

[21]  The Growth of the American Republic Volume II
50th Anniversary Edition
page 473
Samuel Eliot Morrison, Henry Steel Commager, and William E. Leuchtenburg
Published by Oxford University Press
Copyright 1980 by Oxford University Press

[22]  An American History 4th Edition
Rebecca Brooks Gruver
page 723
Published by Alfed A. Knopf, NY
Copyright by Newbery Award Records Inc

[23]  Ibid
Page 726


Part IV
They Really DON'T Give A Damn!

One of the primary symbols of this compassionate conservatism was the  Hooverville.  With two million homeless people, families had to live somewhere, and all too often the only source of shelter was a flimsy, hastily improvised structure made out of readily available components:  empty packing cases, old car bodies, tar paper, etc.  Groups of families often congregated near railroad embankments, on unoccupied land, beside garbage incinerators, in city dumps, etc.  And in some cases those who found themselves in a Hooverville were actually more fortunate when compared to others.  No, this it not Kelli doing her imitation of Barbara Bush on homeless people in a sports stadium.  People, families, often found themselves huddling together to keep warm in doorways, or under bridges, or in alleys, ad infinitum.  [21]

Predictably enough, the Hoover response was a nonresponse.  Terrified by the idea of general relief programs, the vast majority of legislation passed during the Hoover Administration was geared to assist big business, a practice which Abe finds surreal.  "Have you ever  noticed," Abe chuckled, "that whenever corporations get federal assistance--either in the form of  tac cuts or out state and/or federal handouts--that it's for the benefit of the entire country, a good investment.  But when we help the individual citizen with a social program it's a part of a communist plot?  Now isn't that just amazing?"  Amazing, but true.  The Home Loan Act of 1932 created special banks which extended emergency credit to people golding private mortgages on private homes.  It was one of the few programs designed to help individuals.  But the 1932 Glass-Steagall Act provided $1 billion in gold so that banks could compensate for foreign withdrawals.  The January 1932 Reconstruction Finance Corporation provided cash to sinking industries.  The RFC, for all intents and purposes, was little more than a loan institution designed to serve banks, railroad companies, building and loan associations, insurance companies,and trust funds.  It came with capital of $500 million and was given the authority to borrow an additional $1.5 billion.  True, it loaned out billions of dollars to ailing industries, but true to Hoover;s form, it ignored farmers and small business.  [22]

The only time when Hoover showed anything even resembling actual initiative, merely cost him more brownie points with the American people.  I am of course talking about the repulsive chain of event associated with the 1932 Bonus March and the appropriately named Bonus Army.

In the spring of 1932, approximately 15,000 to 17,000 World War I veterans, accompanied by their wives and children, congregated in Washington DC at the Capitol to lobby fpr a bill that would have given them their service bonuses which weren't due until 1945.  The Republican-controlled Senate, however, promptly ignored the Bonus March and the veterans, and defeated the bill.   Most of the veterans merely gave up and returned to their homes, but approximately two thousand with no form of employment took refuge near the capitol in deserted buildings and shanties/  Hoover was both embarrassed and frightened by the veterans, concerned that their mere presence might result in social unrest.  In the meantime the Congress passed a bill which would have allowed the veterans to borrow against their service bonuses.  (Even at this stage the GOP dominated senate saw borrowing as a viable option, even after the Crash in October of 1929!), but the veterans refused the offer and opted to stay right where they were.  In July the police were called in to remove the veterans but a skirmish resulted and Hoover finally lost patience.  Hoover called in the United States Army (under the command of General Douglas MacArthur).  No shots were fired, but the veterans were driven out with tanks and tear gas; their shanties were burned.  Later Hoover insisted that the Bonus Army had been infiltrated by Communists, that it was a "polyglot of tramps and hoodlums." [23]

"I'd say that both Bush and Hoover were genuine ingrates when it came to war Veterans."  According to Abe, Hoover's contempt for those who had served bravely during World War I was a mere prelude to the all too despicable manner in which the current Administration treats returning veterans from the invasion and occupation of Iraq.  "Hoover was operating under a misguided ideology of small government and a fear of socialism.  But Bush, who managed to avoid actual service in a war theater, seems to hate the vets that he sent to war in the first place.  Walter Reed, forcing physically and psychologically wounded soldiers to serve multiple tours of duty.  In this respect Bush has actually found a way to out Hoover Hoover."

In conclusion, my coauthors and I would like to follow the following observations.  In so many ways the Bush administration is little more than an exaggerated, if not hyperactive replay of the 1920s.  On the one hand the powers tat be talk about morality and decency, defining that morality in terms of bigotry against minorities and the gay/lesbian community and an almost obsessive desire to hoard money without any regard for concepts such as fair play and honesty.   They talk about freedom and liberty,  and they quote scripture, but they have no problem when it comes to persecuting gays, lesbians, and minorities and they certainly don't mind thumping the Bible when they use federal tax policy and program cuts to benefit the wealthy and persecute the poor. 

Like the Administrations of the 1920s we find ourselves in an administration which talks about morals and ethics but which ignores or even engages in criminal activity on a regular basis.  Indeed, in this regard, the Bush Administration  resembles the scandal ridden Harding administration, and like Harding, Bush is clearly unfit for the job; the only difference being that Harding, despite his hard drinking, gambling, and overall corruption, at least had the honest to admit that he was intellectually unfit for the job.  On the one hand we have a religious revival. And, as in the 1920s, we see a rash of scandals emanating  from the Administration itself.  The powers that be claim to love and adore Jesus, but we all know that if they were to be honest about their motives and intentions they would change the "In God We Trust" on our coins and currency to "In Gold We Trust."

During the 1920s the American people were burdened with debt because they incessantly bought on credit.  Despite a phony patina of Christian spirituality the basic philosophy of the 1920s was the same philosophy, or rather attitude problem(s) that we see in society today:  the belief that we have to keep up with the Joneses to maintain our worth as human beings, that we are defined by the things we can afford to buy or charge.  Then, like today we are burdened with debt.  few of us believe that we need to save for that proverbial rainy day.  Whether it was buying on margin or  buying a house with a variable mortgage, the fact remains that people in the year 2007, like people in 1929, find themselves in a state of financial risk.

And now the bad news.  As we stated in a previous series, the Bush Administration has been steadily removing the protections that FDR and the Democratic Party implemented to both, protect workers, and to prevent another Stock Market Crash and Depression.   We would do well to remember that prior to Roosevelt's reforms Depressions in the economy were expected.  We even had a name for it.  We called it the business cycle, and until the Crash of 1929 and the Great Depression we gave little thought to the lower classes who invariably suffered the most.  And now the worst news of all.  Each of those depressions during the so called business cycle was worse than the one preceding it.   Do we really want to risk a crash followed by a Depression that might be worse than the one our grandparents and great grand-parents experienced during the 1920s and 1930s? 

Somehow I don't think so. 

Uncle Abe
Praetor One
Bible Belted
Doctor Who
Thomas Paine

September , 2007



"When the war closed the most vital of all issues, both in our own country and throughout the world, was whether governments should continue their wartime ownership and operation of many instrumentalities of production and distribution.  We were challenged with a peacetime choice between between the American system of rugged individualism and a European philosophy of dramatically of dramatically opposed doctrines--doctrines pf paternalism and state socialism.  The acceptance of these ideas would have meant the destruction of self-government through centralization of government. It would have meant the undermining of individual initiative and enterprise through which our people have grown to unparalleled greatness.

"The Republican Party from the beginning resolutely turned its face away from these ideas and these war practices.

"By adherences to the principles of decentralized self-government, ordered liberty, equal opportunity, and freedom to the individual, our American experiment in human welfare has yielded a degree of well-being unparalleled in all the world.  It has come nearer to the abolition of poverty, to the abolition of fear of want, than humanity has ever reached before.  Progress of the past seven years is proof of it.  This alone furnishes the answer to our opponents who ask us ti introduce destructive elements into the system by which this has been accomplished."

From a speech given by Herbert Hoover in New York City in 1928. [14]

In September, 1929 the Stock Market revealed definite signs of instability.  On the morning of 24 October,  prices began to plunge downward.  by 11:30 A.M. a general climate of panic had set in as more and larger blocks of stocks were thrown on the market.  Sales were taking place at such an accelerated rate that the ticker tape, which reported on prices outside the Exchange, began to fall increasingly behind.  In an attempt to counter the wave of panic selling, a group of investment bankers meeting at J.P. Morgan purchased millions of dollars worth of key stocks, eventually stemming the tide and stabilizing prices.  The next day stability continued on the Stock Exchange.  But three days later, on 28 October, 1929, a new wave of panic selling struck the Exchange.  This time the investment bankers made no attempt to stem the tide.  The next day, 29 October, 1929. saw an increase in panic selling.  This time the ticker tape ran two and a half hours behind.  When the day was through, 16,410,030 shares had been sold (A record at that particular time); but more importantly, there had been a total loss in value of 880 issues which the New York Times estimated at more than $800,000,000.  Thousands of investors lost their shirts.  This however did not concern Secretary of the Treasury, Andrew Mellon, who maintained that the crash was only a temporary illness, that it would soon runt its course.  Refusing to accept the fact that the crash was an economic debacle, members of the Hoover Administration insisted that the crash was little more than a correction that would soon remedy itself without any serious governmental intervention. [15]

The very conservative print media of the era often agreed.  Here in Wisconsin (as in other states) various media outlets had a difficult time grasping the serious  nature of the crash and certainly did not anticipate what would follow.  Wisconsin newspaper editors frequently repeated government officials and the delusional optimists on Wall Street who were in a deep state of denial.  The LaCrosse Tribune argued that the crash had been a psychological event and that there was no economic justification for "either a business panic or a business depression."  That same paper went so far as to argue that the economy stood a great deal to gain from the crash, because the crash might actually lead to "sound industrial and commercial development."  Another paper, the Beloit Daily News, assumed that the decline in stocks might actually stimulate the economy while other publications were fanatical in their support of Hoover era Robber Barons, going so far as to blame small investors, insisting that the small investor had been "reprehensible" for getting into the market in the first place and equally reprehensible for waiting to get out.  Only a few Wisconsin publications had the audacity to suggest that the rich should also have been condemned for the same practices.  [16]

"Ah yes," Abe sighed.  "The bended knee of the right wing media.  Is this not what we see today with the corporate media?  Is this not what we saw during the run up to the war?  A very acquiescent media which openly and blindly accepts what right wing 'experts' spew as the truth?  A corporate media that refuses to ask questions or to push back against dishonest rhetoric from corporate and political spokes persons? "
Attitudes such as the ones above were short-lived, however.  As the ensuing Depression widened and deepened it quickly became obvious that the crash had been a a lot more than a brief illness or a slight correction, and virtually no one believed that the crash would provide a stimulus for the ailing economy.  How bad was it?  Consider the following statistics.

* From 1929 to 1932, national income dropped from $87 billion to $42 billion.

*  From 1929 to 1933 more than 100,000 businesses failed.

*In 1932 approximately 25 percent of thr working population was unemployed.  Unemployment tose from 7 million in the fall of 1931 to 12.6 million in the spring of 1933.

*Private charities ran out of money in 1930

*By 1932 local government relief efforts were over extended.  By late 1932 New York City's poor drew $2.39 in weekly support.  In Toledo, Ohio, the poor only received two cents a day for food.  Across the country, unemployed minorities were often removed from the roles to better serve unemployed white males. [17[

*As many as two million homeless were wandering the country by the summer of 1932.  Of these, the Children's Bureau estimated that 200,000 were young boys or girls. In 1932 the Southern Pacific (Railroad) ejected 683,000 trespassers, mostly young men from 16 to 25.  [18]

*Personal consumption of durable goods dropped from $9.2 billion in 1929 to $3.5 billion in 1933.

*Domestic investment in producers' durable equipment dropped from $6.9 billion to $1.6 billion.

*Investment in residential non farm construction dropped from $3.6 billion to $0.5 billion.

*GNP dropped from $104.4 billion in 1929 to $56 billion. [19]

And yet the Hoover Administration, especially Secretary Mellon, was unable to comprehend the devastating nature of the Depression.  Hoer continued to issue meaningless, indeed, irrational, platitudes about imminent recovery.  "Any lack of confidence in... the basic strength of foolishness."  "We have now passed through the words.  "Business and industry have turned the corner."  Mellon was even more delusional, if not heartless.  "People will work harder, live a more moral life.  Values will be adjusted, and enterprising people will pick up the wrecks from the less competent people." Even Secretary of Labor, James J. Davis, got in on the act.  "Courage and resource are already swinging us back on the road to recovery.  And we are fortunate in having a president who is a shining example of that courage and initiative. " [20]

To which Abe responded, "I think that would qualify as 'compassionate conservatism of the late 1920s.  Let us remember, Abe continues, "that 'W', like Mellon, is a fanatical believer in small government--at least wen it comes to using the power of the federal government to help the lower classes.  Bush in this regard, is a great deal more like Mellon than Hoover.  Bush, like Mellon, came from an extremely privileged background.  Both were. or are, dyed in the wool class warriors who see or saw poor people as little more than animals.  Did you catch the line where Mellon talks about the Depression creating people--people meaning the lower and middle classes--with better morals?  Do you remember the shrub's line about how all poor people aren't killers?  Both lines reveal a basic contempt for people who these elitist class warriors consider inferior, below them.  And while we're on the subject, is there any real difference between Mellon's attitude towards the victims of the Great Depression and the Hundfott's attitude towards the victims of hurricane Katrina?  Again, I say, these are both examples of 'compassionate conservatism.'  An oxymoron if ever there was one."



Despite the outward appearances of strength, the truth of the matter is that the economy of the 1920s was built on shifting sand. Yes, workers were enjoying relatively good wages, but there were weaknesses underlying the entire system. The rural economy had been in a shambles for years, the direct result of over production and a federal government which refused to step in and offer governmental assistance. Instead of intervening to undermine the glut of agricultural products that were pushing rural incomes downward, both Coolidge and Hoover stuck to their small government obsession,and allowed the situation to worsen. The results were ironic. In the rural community there was a glut of food products, while in urban environments there was a shortage of food, especially after the Stock Market crashed and the
Great Depressio began to spread and deepen. At no time did it occur to President Hoover to use the excess in agricultural products to feed city dwellers. Nor did he endorse the idea of taking acreage out production by paying farmers subsidies not to plant certain crops. Nor was there a willingness to destroy various agricultural products to help drive up the prices of those products, thus creating higher incomes for the suffering American farmer.

A similar condition existed in the automobile industry, where a glut of cars had been produced by the late 1920s, essentially driving down prices and profits which had a direct effect upon the American auto manufacturer, the average American worker.

Despite a plethora of medical advances ( the advent vitamins, advances in chemistry,dietary reforms, and early successes with antibiotics) the typical American was not in the best of health. Norway and Sweden enjoyed lower rates of infant mortality. A disproportionate number of American citizens suffered from ailments associated with poverty, such as bad teeth, poor eyesight, and malnutrition. That said a lot abut a capitalist society which had been touted as a kind of economic Nirvana. [8]

Unemployment rates had begun to rise in the years prior to the crash, especially in the area of residential construction. In the bituminous coal industry, 250,000 men lost their jobs when mines began to close between the years 1923 and 1929. The anthracite coal industry was on the ropes thanks in large part to the rising competition from oil heating. Similarly, the Northern Textile mill had been in a state of decay for years. Retail growth was dropping off. In the midst of this supposed boom six out of ten families were earning less than the required $2000 per year to provide the basic necessities of life. [9]
But the greatest weakness in the Coolidge/Hoover economy was the disproportionate distribution of wealth, which dramatically favored the upper classes. From 1923 to 1929 the nation's total realized income rose from $74.3 billion to $89 billion in 1929. The fruits of that increase however were not equally shared. In 1929 the top 0.1 percent of Americans had a combined income equal to the bottom 42 percent. That same top 0.1 percent of Americans controlled 34 percent of all savings while 80 percent of Americans had no savings at all. While disposable income per capita rose nine percent from 1920 to 1929. those within the top one percent enjoyed a stupendous 75 percent increase in per capita disposable income [10]. Thanks in large part to Secretary of the Treasury Andrew Mellon, national tax policy contributed to the disparity in wealth. The February 26, 1926 Revenue Act reduced federal income and inheritance taxes. The end result was that "a man with a million dollar annual income had his federal taxes reduced from $600,000 to $200,000. Even the Supreme Court played a role in expanding the gap...In the 1923 case Adkins V. Children's Hospital, the Supreme Court ruled minimum wage legislation unconstitutional [11].

So why was that a problem? The answer is obvious. It creates an unstable economy. Over production had already created a glut of unwanted goods and commodities. Now consider the following scenario. Assume that you earn $30,000 a year and that I earn $150,000 a year. That means that I earn fifty times a year more than you do. I might decide to buy a few luxury items that you can't afford to buy, but an economy cannot be sustained on the purchase of luxury items by the wealthy. I can't eat fifty times more food than you do. Nor is it likely that I will purchase fifty DVD players, fifty cars, fifty toasters, fifty digital TVs or fifty microwave ovens. Translated into modern English a thriving economy needs a more even distribution of wealth and income to sustain itself. Granted, I maybe eating for two these days, but let's get real friends and neighbors, I'm not going to buy and gobble down fifty Tombstone pizzas every week. It simply isn't possible.

"We see a similar situation in today's economy," Abe reminded me. "I believe the top 20 percent (of the American people) own somewhere around 80 percent of the wealth. At the same time the bottom 80 percent (of the American people) own about 20 percent of the privately owned wealth." Upon double checking Abe's recollections, I discovered that the situation is actually somewhat worse than he suggested. In the year 2001, the top one percent of American households, those that we would think of as the upper class, had somehow managed to hoard a disproportionate 33.4 percent of the privately owned wealth. The next 19 percent, which includes small businessmen, professionals, and the managerial class had grabbed up another 51 percent of the wealth. This means that the richest 20 percent had managed to acquire a walloping 80 percent of the wealth while the bottom 80 percent were left to fight over a measly 16 percent of the private wealth. As far as financial wealth is concerned, the top once percent of American households own 44.1 percent of the privately held stock, 38 percent of the financial securities, and 57.3 percent of business equity. The top ten percent of American households own between 85 and 90 percent of stock bonds, trust funds, and business equity and more than 75 percent of non-home real estate. [12]

And yet, the Coolidge Hoover economies did manage to sustain themselves, albeit temporarily. But how did they do it? Through luxury spending and investment from the rich and, worse yet, from credit sales. According to Mister Gusmorino, the idea of credit spending, "buying now and paying later," caught on quickly. "Between 1925 and 1929," says Gusmorino, "the total amount of outstanding installment credit more than doubled from $1.38 billion to around $3 billion. Installment credit allowed one to 'telescope the future into the present.'" [13] This sounded good to the American consumer, but eventually there came a time when there was little more that the American people needed and/or wanted to buy. Moreover, many Americans overextended themselves, reached the point where they could no longer afford to purchase new items because a larger portion of their incomes were being used to pay off the credit expenses associated with previous purchases.

"Isn't this the same thing that the pirate capitalists are encouraging today?" Abe asked me. "Do we not have an economy in which the average American is up to his ears in credit card debt? And what do you think would happen if we suddenly pulled in our belts and stopped shopping? What do you think would happen if we stopped buying truck loads of items that we can neither afford nor really need? I'll tel you what would happen. The (Bush) economy would collapse. It's so damned dependent upon shopping--consumerism if you will--that the bottom would drop out if Americans ever became serious about cutting back and saving for a rainy day." Continuing in a similar vein, Abe added. "We talked about how people once bought stocks on margin. Putting aside our discussion about credit cards and consumerism...we're doing the same thing in the real estate and housing markets today. Only we don't call it 'buying on margin.' We call it the 'sub prime lending rate.' Once again we have a greedy credit community, and once again it has been backed by a an incompetent Republican Administration. George W. Bush calls it the ownership society. I'm really shocked by the fact that he didn't also promise us a 'car in every garage and a chicken in every pot.' We heard it all before, a right wing government using rhetoric and policies to to allow legalized loan sharking. George W. Bush may call it the 'ownership society,' but whatever Orwellian name you opt to use, it is actually encouraging people to purchase or build houses that they simply cannot afford. What else can you call it when the creditors decide to raise interest rates and drive unsuspecting Americans out of their homes? Some may think of this as 'good business' or 'good politics' or maybe both, but when I was growing up during the Great Depression we called it loan sharking."

Both Abe and Mr. Gusmorino, and many others, agree that you can't sustain an economy based on investment from the rich. Depending on the wealthy to float your economy makes a certain degree of sense when conditions produce a certain degree of confidence in that economy; but an event like the Stock Market Crash of 1929 shook public confidence and for all intents and purposes, destroyed one of the legs on which the Coolidge/Hoover pipe dream had been supported.

Eventually over-production, loose credit, a maldistribution of wealth and countless other factors brought an end to the wild orgie of stock purchases.

The Stage had been set for the Stock Market Crash of 1929 and the Great Depression.


Dirty Tricks and Corruption During the 1920s
by Donatra, Praetor One, Bible-Belted, Uncle Abe, and Thomas Paine.

As a direct result of my recent conversation with Abe regarding the differences between George W. Bush and Franklin Roosevelt, I realized that we had enough material to compare the current Demander and Thief to another group of Demanders and Thieves, the late, unlamented Calvin Coolidge and the late not so great Herbert Hoover.

As I listened to Abe reminisce about his experiences during the final years of the 1920s and the opening years of the 1930s, I realized that there were more similarities between those horrible, horrible years and the current situation in which we now find ourselves.  Let's face it, dear readers.  The opening years of the 21st century are a replay of the disastrous 1920s, and the sad part of it all is that we are living under the reign of an administration which either ignores the lessons of history or openly rewrites or ignores the historical record to serve it's own, selfish agenda.

"We've seen it all before," Abe said, his tone laced with a lingering disgust.  "The heavy emphasis on big business, the transformation of corporate America into an object of public worship."  According to Abe the Coolidge and Hoover Administrations both took their reverence for corporation to ridicules heights.  "Time and time again the Republicans tried to associate the word spiritual with American business.   Coolidge himself believed that a man who built a factory was building a temple and that the people who worker there were in essence engaging in a form of worship."  Moreover  Coolidge and his Republican ilk also believed that American business should be allowed to serve as a moral example to the rest of America.  "Some went so far as to compare Jesus Christ to a corporate executive.  They genuinely believed that he was a great advertiser, a corporate publicity hound,  who employed the tactics of mass marketing to spread his message.  And if that sounds familiar it should.  We've heard it before.  We heard it during the Gilded Age, one of the most corrupt eras in American business and politics, and we are hearing it now, as so called conservatives sing the praises of unregulated capitalism at the expense of anything that might serve the public good." [1]

The 1920s, like the early years of this century, were moralistic in the extreme.  The only problem was that the same businessmen who promoted American Corporatism as a form of religion never quite found a way to infuse their money-grubbing religion with a sense of morality.  Indeed, when one looked at the business practices of the 1920s it appeared as if there were a race to the moral bottom among the corporate and financial leaders who preached that foul doctrine. 

Inside manipulation of the stock market was a tremendous problem. Insiders would hire professional propagandists to promote a stock.  Their job was to publish glowing reports about a given company, the ultimate goal being to drive up the value of the stock.  At which point the insiders sold out, driving down the price of the stock and often destroying the company and the finances of unknowing investors.  This is what happened to the Kolster Radio Company.   It hired a professional propagandist named George Breen and offered him stock options.  Kolster received about $40,000 to manipulate the media into printing favorable reports about his employer.  And it worked.  The price of Kolster stock rose from $74 (in 1928) to $95 per share (in 1929).  By December 1929 the value of Kolster stock had dropped to $6 a share and the company bellied up. [2]
Another trick was called "pegging."  This was the purchasing of stock while a sale was going on.  The only problem was that the public was never informed about the sale..  Once the securities had been unloaded the insiders would essentially pull the plug, dump the stocks on the market,  and the value of the stock would plummet.  It was a great deal for the insiders who knew when to sell but a disaster for the uninformed public who lost their shirts when the value of the stock went into a free fall." [3]

On other occasions manipulators, insiders, would form a self-serving pool and then drive up the price of the stock by buying and selling those stocks to one another.  Then, once they had driven the stock up to a level that they considered appropriate they would turn around and sell short, and make another fortune while the stock value hit rock bottom.  This of course was a disaster for the regular investor who had no idea as to how the stock was being manipulated by insiders, and who assumed incorrectly that they were investing in an honest venture.  This happened to RCA.  In 1924 RCA stock was worth approximately $7 a share.  By 1929 it was worth more than $500 a share.  Then, "The Powers That Be,"  the insiders,noticed that some investors had decided that the stock was overvalued and began to sell short.  In the end those who sold short lost out because the insiders decided it would be a 'really neat idea' to corner the floating supply.  The end result was that those who had sold short were left holding the bag. In 1928 RCA stock jumped by as much as forty, fifty, and finally, sixty points in a few days while the insiders walked away with a "cool $500 million." [4]
Another form of corruption involved the holding company in which a parent company owned another company, which owned another company etc.   This not only made it difficult for the states to regulate various types of corporate behavior, it also created a situation in which it appeared as if individual companies were buying and selling one another when in fact they were owned and dominated by the same business at the top of the corporate pyramid. In other words, a company could manipulate the value of its stock(s) by buying and selling within its own corporate empire while the American people, the every day investor, hadn't a clue as to what was happening [5]
"Every era has its own type of corporate scandal," Abe said.  "In the 1920s it was the kind of insider manipulation that we just discussed. During the Reagen Administration we had a rash of insider trading scandals. "It was essentially a repeat of the 1920s," Abe suggested. "And Bush is little better.  In fact he's cut from the same moldy cloth.  During the Bush regime we had the Enron scenario and the war profiteering scenario that we have seen since the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq."  In other words, the exact practices and nature of the corruption may vary, but in the end it all comes out of the same corporate well.  The right wing belief in unregulated (some might say pirate) capitalism becomes the idee fixe in the minds of the corporate elite and its puppet politicians who do their bidding.  This became obvious during the years of Newt Gingrich when corporations were literally allowed to write their own, self-serving legislation which was quickly passed (often without a chance for proper review and debate) by the Republican dominated Congress.  "For the corporatists--Brandon might say fascists--business is indeed a religion, and all too often religious fanaticism is the end result.  They will break any law or any code of ethical standards to promote their corporate faith."  And let's not forget the profit motive.  In many cases it is perfectly obvious that the only morality these corporations hold dear--then and now--is the bottom line.   In the 1920s we had greedy insiders who were only more than happy to twist and distort the system for their own selfish ends, and the same can be said about today.  Just as in the 1920s, when ethics and the welfare of the middle class were considered quaint or even obstructions to corporate profits, today we see a corporate set of ethics--or lack thereof--in which the well being of the American people are dismissed to benefit the corporate elite.  Outsourcing American jobs to third world and/or communist countries; off shore tactics which allow corporations to escape paying their fair share in axes; corporation backed measures which are designed to curtail the workers' rights to freedom of assembly, to form unions, or to speak out against a corporation; a general weakening of work place safety regulations and the eradication of the eight hour work day; not to mention shrinking wages and longer hours.  In  many ways the Reagen, Bush I, and Bush II regimes represent a return to the bad old days of Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge, and Herbert Hoover.  Was no accident that Ronald Reagen removed a portrait of Thomas Jefferson, one of our Founding Fathers mind you, and replaced it with a picture of his favorite misanthrope, Calvin Coolidge?  Of course not.  While seemingly symbolic, that action should have told us that Reagen and the pirate capitalists who he brought to power, were deadly serious about dismantling those portions of Roosevelt's New Deal which had been designed to protect the American worker and to shield the American people from another economic catastrophe like the Great Depression.

Another problem was loose credit.  The average American could buy stocks for as little as ten percent of the price of the stock.  "Does the term 'buying on margin mean anything to you?"  Abe asks.  "After plopping down his ten percent (for the price of the stocks he was purchasing) the rest of the cost was covered by large commercial banks.  They basically transferred the money to brokerage houses and it was the brokerage house that handled the remaining 90 percent of the cost (of the stock)."  The pitfalls in this are obvious.  As long as the stock performs well and goes up, the investor can always hope to reap a small fortune and then pay off the 90 percent with his profits, but if the price of the stock begins to go down he is for all intent and purposes, out of luck.  "Regrettably, a lot of investors bought more on margin than they could ever hope to pay back, more than they could afford.  They over extended themselves and were unable to repay the 90 percent if the stock ever fell." [6]  And no one bothered to tell them that the idea of a constantly rising stock market was a myth.  Nobody told them that such a scenario was unsustainable, that what goes up must come down.  Worse yet, the Republican dominated government of the era went out of its way to create the impression that such a system was perpetually sustainable.  Leaders of industry and politicians alike touted the idea of  industrial innovation, claiming that the dynamic economy would continue to spiral upwards as new technologies were invented, each new technology creating new jobs and new opportunities. [7]  "In many ways they were like George W. Bush who told us to show our patriotism through shopping. SHOPPING of all things," Abe chuckles.  "In the days following 911 Bush began to sound more and more like a modern day Hoover of Coolidge.  He really seemed to believe that the way to dig ourselves out of a recession, and to deal with the trauma of 911 was to make a special trip to Sprawl Mart.  Like old Cal and Herbert," Abe continued, George W. Bush really and sincerely believed that shopping, going into debt to buy things we don't even need, is a patriotic act."  (To which my husband, PraetorOne (AKA Brandon) would undoubtedly add, "And you thought Franklin Roosevelt was into Keynesian economics.")

"Sadly," Abe continued, "We have another problem with easy credit in today's economic climate.  I am of course referring to sub prime loans."  In the 1920s, Abe suggested, "we were buying stock on credit.  In the early 21st Century we were buying our houses on credits.  Only now the interest rates on those loans have begun to inch upwards, incomes are not keeping up with the extra burden of increased (mortgage) interest rates, and people are beginning to lose their homes."  Like in the 1920s, Abe maintains, we have a dishonorable sector of the American public, the credit industry, which sold these loans as a kid of panacea to the potential American home owner. Like the propagandists of the 1920s who maintained that the boom would continue forever, George W. Bush praised and promoted the ownership society, openly encouraging the American people to purchase homes that they were unable to avoid.  And he was aided by an all to willing Federal Reserve Board which kept interest rates at low rates for so so long that the American people began to believe the lies that their president and the credit industry were spinning on an almost regular basis.