"It is the highest impertinence and presumption, therefore, in kings and ministers, to pretend to watch over the economy of private people, and to restrain their expence, either by sumptuary laws, or by prohibiting the importation of foreign luxuries. They are themselves always, and without any exception, the greatest spendthrifts in the society. Let them look well after their own expence, and they may safely trust private people with theirs. If their own extravagance does not ruin the state, that of their subjects never will." ~ Adam Smith
Exclusive to STR
September 18, 2006
On television, there is one news program worth watching. With refreshing honesty, it bills itself as "the only fake news show in the world that admits it" and can be found on cable, at the Comedy Channel; late-night, with a repeat the next day in prime time for those of us who retire early. It's "The Daily Show," and its host at the anchor's desk is Jon Stewart.
Stewart is very bright, no question. He's also so far Left that he nearly falls out of the cart--yet he conducts hilarious interviews with guests across the spectrum of entertainment and politics, including Bob Dole, John Kerry and John Stossel. Sometimes his exchanges with knowledgeable ones are quite profound and move at breathtaking speed. His show is an irreverent, often vulgar, commentary on current events and a frequent theme is to lampoon the President as an idiot. Once asked whether he would, if invited, interview G.W. Bush, Stewart replied "No, I couldn't. I have too much respect for the Office."
That sums him up. He is very funny, almost out of the Statist box (though on the wrong side), but definitely not quite. He still supposes that a President is an official to be honored; he cannot grasp that government is a massive criminal organization that ought to be scrapped--and if he were ever to grasp it, I've no doubt that "The Daily Show" would disappear from Comedy Central faster than you can say "Lysander Spooner."
Last week, one of his guests was Gary Hart, the one-time Pres hopeful for the Democrat Party, in 1984 and 1988; a hope extinguished by the discovery of his extramarital affair with Donna Rice, aboard his launch "Monkey Business." Hart is now a professor at the University of Colorado and recently wrote a book called The Courage of Our Convictions: A Manifesto for Democrats, and Stewart teased him and the Party because it, apparently, needs to be told what it believes.
Hart's answer was what prompted me to write this article. He replied that Democrats are the party that put into office the greatest presidents of the 20th Century; and he named four, as Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Jack Kennedy and L.B. Johnson. These, he said, were people who knew what they believed and who led the American people to follow; they had principles which guided their lives and policies.
Unfortunately, Jon Stewart being so far Left, the host failed to call the guest on that amazing claim--concurring, rather, with what he'd said. But you and I will want to probe it a little.
What most impressed me was that this seasoned, Pol-turned-Academic kept his face entirely straight. He was wholly serious. He actually believes those four brigands were great men, to be emulated now so as to give his Party some color, gravitas and pizazz.
Roosevelt is the President who was the prime cause, first, of the extension of a sharp stock-market setback into a major 15-year Depression that ended only after his death when government spending was dramatically slashed in 1946--after a massively destructive war--for details, see Rothbard's America's Great Depression. In so doing, Roosevelt is also responsible for the disaster of "Social Security," an intractable problem that created and will continue to prolong inter-generational conflict and impoverishment of the elderly. His megalomania led him to trick Americans into entering WWII, presumably so as to found a worldwide empire when it was over--an empire his successors are still extending; and he did so by the notorious deception of Pearl Harbor. This con-artist and mass-killer is one of those whom Gary Hart seriously wants the Dems and everyone else to admire.
Truman was FDR's successor whom he hardly bothered to prepare for the job, and we can allow him some slack on that account. He rose (or rather, descended) quickly to the task, however, and within weeks was faced with the most momentous decision of the Century: whether to drop The Bomb. At the time, as I recall, it was portrayed as a trade-off: since the Japanese government stubbornly refused to surrender, the choice was between (a) killing a quarter of a million Japanese with the atom bomb in one week, or (b) maintaining an ongoing war that might well kill another million Americans as the Japanese homeland was invaded and conquered in one or two years of a continued slugfest. If that was the choice, it looks fairly easy.
But it was no such thing. First, the policy of demanding unconditional surrender had been fixed by FDR, with concurrence by Churchill and Stalin--and in the end, the surrender was not strictly without condition; the Emperor stayed in place. Second, many advisors told Truman that the Japanese government was tottering and very likely to surrender if pressed and if given some modest incentive--requiring neither invasion nor bomb. And thirdly, since (above) it was FDR's America that had initiated war with Japan and not the other way around, it would not have been impossible simply to call it off. Yes, that would have left the difficult task of explaining why so many brave Marines had had to die in the Pacific Theater, and so no doubt crippled Truman's political prospects, but--hey, he's being held up as a great man, and truly great men make difficult and unpopular decisions; the "buck stops" on their desks. We know what choice he did make, and that choice has blighted humanity ever since.
Kennedy had but a short time to do much damage, and was cut down in a way that left behind him the Myth of Camelot; and of the four, I'd allow that he was the least destructive. To his credit, he called off the Bay of Pigs invasion, though so clumsily as to abandon the would-be liberators to their fate; and having started the Vietnam intervention, it's clear that before his death, he was in the process of reversing that policy. Some think that's what got him assassinated. Even so, JFK did start the disaster of the forced integration policy that created so much havoc in the later 1960s; he was a social engineer with a big hammer, like all the rest of them.
LBJ, Hart's final, shining example was a crook of the first water; a career politician and Congressional manipulator who deliberately escalated the Vietnam War using the trick of the fictional Gulf of Tonkin attack. Having caused the death of most of America 's 55,000 killed, he acknowledged his failure by declining to run in 1968 for re-election. He prosecuted a needless war, and then failed to win it; I wonder which is worse. Come to think of it, he started two, and lost both; the second was the "War on Poverty." This, Hart says, is that to which Democrats should aspire.
Again, the surprise during Stewart's interview was that in parading these four sickos as heroes to emulate, Hart was entirely serious. This, we may therefore take it, is pretty well exactly where the Democrats--Tweedle Dee, to the Republicans' Tweedle Dum(b)--are standing. Neither party has learned anything at all in 75 years. And we can readily understand that, for what these liars say they are for has nothing to do with what is their real aim; to seek and maintain power over Americans and others any way they can.
When we evaluate those four killers in that light, a very different picture emerges. FDR vastly expanded the whole role of the FedGov, more than any other single President. Then Truman, by dropping just two bombs, established the FedGov's preeminence in world affairs; declared, if you will, that the American Empire had begun. JFK further secured the FedGov by setting two huge groups of Americans at each others' throats and eliminating the rival power still then residing in the States, and--inadvertently--endeared his office to the affections of the voter by getting shot. Lastly, LBJ cemented the alliance between the FedGov and the "defense" industry by transferring hundreds of billions of dollars to the latter from the hapless taxpayer. The four are, indeed, pre-eminent in building the centralized tyranny under which we all now suffer and so they deserve their honored places in the villainous Washington pantheon.
We already recognize the Republicans as a bunch of fascists--that has become unmistakably clear in the first years of the new Millennium. Now we are reminded that the Democrats are at least as bad or arguably worse. There is no choice between them, Dum or Dee; and we market anarchists alone have called down a pox upon both their houses and said as clearly as we can that we want Neither Of The Above, but rather just to be left alone to govern ourselves.