Wednesday, January 09, 2013

New Deal at 80 - Nixon at 100


I had an interesting experience the other night that I wanted to share with you. On Monday my friend, Carolyn Karkosza, asked me to take her to Hyde Park, NY. She wanted to visit the Vanderbilt mansion and the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library and Museum. Having seen the Vanderbilt pad on a fifth grade field trip long ago, I had no desire to see it again, but I'm the sort who just cannot say no to an old friend. I saw it again late Monday afternoon for what will be the final time, I assure you. Our plan was to visit the Roosevelt place the following day.

After checking into the Quality Inn across the road from the FDR Library, I watched a bit of TV, had a couple of drinks and went to bed. Waking up at 3AM and unable to to get back to sleep, I decided to take a nocturnal stroll. I silently ventured across a deserted Route 9 and entered the FDR grounds in total darkness, the only light visible being the gentle glow of a crescent moon. 

Roosevelt grave site
I Slowly made my way to the Rose Garden where tonight Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt sleep side by side. It was just the three of us - or rather their spirits and I - breathing in the serenity of the moment. Standing there meditating in the cold, dark of night, it was impossible not to reflect on the lives of the two people whose mortal remains rested silent and still beneath the snow only a few yards from where I stood. What would our lives be like today had FDR lost the election of 1932? How different would America be - or the entire planet for that matter? Thankfully, we'll never know the answer to that question.

After about twenty minutes of silent contemplation, I wished the President and Mrs. Roosevelt golden slumbers. I then journeyed back to my room and slept like a baby.

March 4, a little less than two months from now, will mark the eightieth anniversary of the dawn of the New Deal. That day will be as good as any to pause and talk about what liberalism has meant to America. It's a conversation that is worth having, and long overdue. Think about this: The youngest person to cast his or her vote in the election of 1932 would today be one-hundred and one years old. There are few people alive today who have a conscious memory of how difficult existence was for ordinary people prior to the presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

On the other hand, a lot of people have clear memories of the administration of Richard Milhaus Nixon. Hell, even I remember Nixon! Mentioning Roosevelt and Nixon in the same sentence is a bit of a stretch, I know. They were two completely different men with two completely different worldviews. Politics indeed makes for some very strange bedfellows. I am mentioning Nixon's name in this context simply because today is the centennial of his birth. That's right, kids! One-hundred years ago today Tricky Dick was born in Yorba Linda, California!

My purpose here is not to defame the name of Dick Nixon. He did that all by himself with no help from me. But in light of what's come since he left the White House in disgrace on August 9, 1974, the guy is starting to look pretty good. Even his most ardent detractors (myself included) have to agree that Nixon, as strange and as dark as he might have been, was possessed of a brilliant mind. With very few exceptions he was one of the most intelligent people ever to live in the Executive Mansion. His problem was simply the fact that he was so psychologically bent-out-of-shape, his administration's implosion was almost a foregone conclusion - at least when viewed in historical hindsight. In light of what we now know about the internal makeup of Richard M. Nixon, it is easy to conclude that he was temperamentally ill-suited for the job of chief-executive. His administration, cut short by scandal, was a disaster waiting to happen.

And yet for all his personal failings, Dick Nixon understood a few, basic realities that (with the exception of Gerry Ford) all of his Republican successors have never been able to figure out. Nixon was pretty much an Eisenhower Republican. As Dwight Eisenhower's VP, he was loyal to and respectful of the president's agenda. Although each man was uncomfortable in the presence of the other (It is said that Ike in particular didn't much care for Nixon personally) they saw the world through the same lens. President Eisenhower's views on American social engineering can best be summed up in a letter he wrote to his brother, Edgar, on the eve of the 1952 election:

"Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are H. L. Hunt (you possibly know his background), a few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid."

He can't be accused of political pandering here. This was a private letter that was not made public until decades after his death. Here are the key words which we really need to pay attention to: "....you would not hear of that party again in our political history." Eisenhower understood - as did Nixon, I think - that the institutions that make for a stable and thriving middle class are tampered with to the detriment of the political party doing the tampering. In other words, "Mess with Social Security and you're history, Buster!" This is the reason the Republican party is within a decade of extinction.

At one point Dick Nixon tried to outdo Roosevelt himself. He made the attempt to bring health insurance to everyone - a move that was thwarted by Senator Edward Moore Kennedy. He didn't want affordable health care to be a Republican legacy. It was not one of Teddy's mountaintop moments to be sure. And it was Nixon who created the Environmental Protection Agency, one of the far right's worst nightmares! We must give credit where credit is due - even to the likes of The Trickster.

It's ironic but true enough: had Nixon come around today, his party wouldn't nominate him for any office - let alone the presidency. That is how far down the ideological sewer it has descended. Strange days indeed.

And things are getting stranger by the moment

The victims of Hurricane Sandy will finally be receiving desperately needed aid from the government - but only after the Congress of the United States was publicly shamed into providing it. In 2005, within a week of Hurricane Katrina's devastation in the south, the people of that region were handed a check for over sixty-five billion to help with the clean-up and rescue. Nearly three months after Sandy made her wrath known, the people of the northeast are still waiting. The right wing have made themselves clear. The only thing that matters to them are tax cuts for billionaires. We in northeast don't matter. We have lots of Negroes, Arabs and Jews living here, you know.

President Roosevelt would be appalled. President Nixon's jaw would be dropped to
the floor. These are different times. 

And I'm afraid the situation is going to get a lot worse before it gets half-a-shade better. The 113th Congress, which was sworn in on January 3, is still controlled by what used to be called "the party of Abraham Lincoln". They have no intention of doing right by the people they are sworn to represent. In the next two years you can expect more obstruction and legislative sabotage. I like to call it "treason".

Richard Nixon and Franklin Roosevelt were men who strenuously guarded their privacy. Each of them found it difficult to share intimacies with even those closest to them. But that's where the similarities end. You could not contrive in fiction two men as different in temperament and personality as these guys. Franklin was talkative and jovial; Dick was cheerless and intimidating. Their one common denominator, at least as far as governance was concerned, was that neither of them believed that economic expansion could be achieved at the expense of the working and middle classes. Too many politicians (of both parties) have forgotten this. Maybe someday they'll remember....Maybe.

Carolyn and I never made it to the tour of the FDR Library on Tuesday. We were both a bit out of sorts when we woke up and anxious to get back to Goshen. That's okay. Franklin, Eleanor and I were able to spend some quality time together in the darkness of the Rose Garden. They say hi.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY
tomdegan@frontiernet.net

SUGGESTED READING:

No Ordinary Time
by Doris Kearns-Goodwin

The best book ever written about the FDR White House. You can't go wrong with Doris. You just can't!    

AFTERTHOUGHT:

I had an article published on Britain's "Carnage Report" on Monday. Here's a link to have a look:

http://thecarnagereport.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/politics-guest-post-teetering-on.html

Cheerio! Pip! Pip!

BREAKING NEWS FROM DEMOCRACY NOW: 

"Two new colors have been added to Australia's weather maps to show temperatures exceeding 122 degrees Fahrenheit in the country's fiercest heat wave in more than 80 years. Wildfires are raging through Australia's six states, including in Tasmania where some 50,000 acres of forests and farmland have been destroyed."

Forget all about that stuff about "global warming". It's just an evil, LIBERAL myth, you know.

27 Comments:

At 10:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tom
What do you do for a living? What is the source of your income?

 
At 10:11 PM, Anonymous James said...

Hey anon,What do you do for a living? What is the source of your income?

 
At 1:59 AM, Blogger Tom Degan said...

At the moment I am unemployed - but looking.

 
At 8:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tom,

I hope your job search is fruitful. We need your fair share of income.
Keep trying.

James,
For the record I am an account executive. My source of income is that which I earn by my work.

The reason I asked Tom his was I wondered how he was able to visit FDR's site. I know most of us don't have the time or money or the freedom to do as Tom is able to do. Maybe Tom is on to a better life style

What's yours?

 
At 12:11 PM, Anonymous James said...

I was being sarcastic as many people using Anonymous are less than polite. I see you are not.

The idea of looking for a job is like a nightmare to me. I started a top of the line finish carpentry and furniture building business when I as 18. Forty years later things are still going well. Being self employed is the best way to go as the corporations treat you like shit nowadays.

 
At 7:07 PM, Blogger charles moore said...

Beautifully written, Tom. Thank you for the history lesson and a most elegant and eloquent tribute to the Roosevelts.

 
At 1:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tom,
I make way under the amount of income that the recent tax increases where designed for. Way under.
Yet I have less money in my pay check this week. If you are receiving unemployment, did your check get smaller like mine did?

 
At 1:32 AM, Anonymous Ron Baldwin said...

Tom, your rants are priceless.

I am an old geezer (age 78) and still practicing as a CPA. As such I see the financial status of many people. I am utterly astounded at the number of former middle-class people on the toboggan ride to poverty who still believe the Republican Party has their best interests at heart.

Some years ago I decided I did not know enough about some lesser-known Presidents and that seems to have coincided with a plethora of historians publishing great studies about them. The history of the Whigs is quite interesting, particularly their rather dramatic demise. Hopefully we will see a similar demise of the so-called “Party of Abraham Lincoln.”

Perhaps the three best known and admired Republican Presidents were Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and Dwight Eisenhower. Imagine if they showed up today and saw what has become of the Republican Party. I particularly like Eisenhower’s farewell and his warning about the military/industrial complex.

I am also amused by the present-day Republican horror of the annual deficits and the national debt. Picture that next to Dick Cheney’s comment when an aide questioned the fiscal policies of that era, “Deficits don’t matter – Reagan proved that!”

As you have so often said, you just cannot make this stuff up.

 
At 3:10 AM, Blogger Tom Degan said...

Thank you, Ron.

Yeah, it doesn't stretch the imagination much too conclude that Abe, Teddy and Ike wouldn't recognize their party today. As I've said before, it's no longer a "party". It is now an organized criminal enterprise.

Tom

 
At 10:05 AM, Blogger Jefferson's Guardian said...

Anonymous: "For the record I am an account executive. My source of income is that which I earn by my work."

What kind of products and services do you sell, and what industries and businesses constitute your primary market base? Are you compensated by full commission, or are you on a salary/commission split?

 
At 10:47 AM, Blogger charles moore said...

Ron Baldwin, an excellent post. I am also an old geezer and like you, constantly amazed at the number of people who will vote against their best interest.

I think a part of the problem is something you touched on and that is an appalling lack of knowledge about history and civics. It never ceases to amaze me how many freshmen get voted into Congress who don't have a clue as to how it works.

 
At 10:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tom,

I miss the Democrat party pf JFK

 
At 3:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jefferson,

I see from the info you provide that you art a public employee. Am I correct?
Did your pay check change in it's net amount due to the Obama tax increases just passed?

 
At 6:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Off subject, but where else are you going to read of this?

“Scott Swirling was the head of the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association from 1981 to 1991. The NFPRHA is a national umbrella organization based out of D.C. that makes policy and conducts legal fights on abortion issues. And lately, Scott has been showing off what a good family man he is.

The former director of family planning and school counseling advocacy groups in the District of Columbia has been arrested for allegedly arranging to have sex with a 12-year-old girl in an online Internet sting.

Scott Richard Swirling, 61, thought he was discussing plans to meet a District man who was offering to let him have sex with his preteen daughter, authorities said.

It turns out Swirling was dealing with an undercover D.C. police officer.”

 
At 7:41 PM, Anonymous James said...

Hey this is fun , we can do this all day!

A New Hampshire lawyer who works with a virulently anti-gay Christian-right organization has been found guilty of child pornography charges after videotaping her own daughter having sex with two men on multiple occasions.

Lisa Biron, 43, of Manchester faces a minimum sentence of 25 years in prison after a jury convicted her yesterday. The jury deliberated for less than an hour.

Biron, arrested by the FBI last November, was accused of eight felony counts involving the videotaping of men having sex with a 14-year-old girl who was identified by the Associated Press as her daughter. She also allegedly made a cellphone video of herself having sex with her daughter.

Biron, who claimed on her Facebook page (which was taken down, according to the Concord Monitor) that the Bible was her favorite book, had worked with Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), formerly the Alliance Defense Fund, in defending a Pentecostal church in Concord in a tax fight against the city.

The Arizona-based ADF calls itself a “servant ministry” that seeks to transform the legal system and advocate “for religious liberty, the sanctity of life, and marriage and family.” The group issues dire warnings about “the homosexual agenda” and offers a book (available for a donation of $35) by its president, Alan Sears, and senior director Craig Osten, with that title. In the book, the authors claim that “the homosexual agenda” will destroy religious liberty and free speech. In one chapter, they claim that homosexuality on college campuses leads to pedophilia, and that homosexuality and pedophilia “are intrinsically linked,” a falsehood long perpetuated by the anti-gay right to demonize LGBT people.

In the wake of Biron’s arrest, the ADF removed all mentions of her from its website and Facebook page, and in a November “CBS News” report the ADF said that Biron was never an employee. The group has released no further statements on Biron. According to the LGBT blog Joe.My.God., the group continued to remove mentions of her from its Facebook page yesterday and banned anyone who posted anything about her.

Biron may not have been a formal employee of the ADF, but John Aravosis at Americablog found that she had been a member of the ADF “Honor Corps,” the group created to recognize allied attorneys who complete 450 hours of pro bono service for the group and to award and recognize “significant milestones” in service. Honor Corps attorneys also receive perks from the ADF like pro bono referrals and opportunities, job and résumé postings, invitations to their regional legal academies, and access to online resources and confidential updates and presentations. In March 2011, Biron was mentioned by the ADF as an “Allied Attorney Success Story.” The ADF website doesn’t list that anymore.

 
At 8:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


"Biron may not have been a formal employee of the ADF, but John Aravosis at Americablog found that she had been a member of the ADF “Honor Corps,”

“Scott Swirling was the head of the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association from 1981 to 1991".

 
At 9:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

LEADING CAUSE OF GUN DEATHS:
DEMOCRATS!
Top 10 Gun Death Cities!
1 NEW ORLEANS DEM MAYORS FOR 77 YEARS
2 DETROIT DEM MAYORS FOR 51 YEARS
3 LAS VEGAS DEM MAYORS FOR 36 YEARS
4 MIAMI DEM MAYORS FOR 66 YEARS
5 BALTIMORE DEM MAYORS FOR 50 YEARS
6 ST. LOUIS DEM MAYORS FOR 64 YEARS
7 RICHMOND DEM MAYORS FOR 36 YEARS
8 MEMPHIS DEM MAYORS FOR 97 YEARS
9 CLEVELAND DEM MAYORS FOR 24 YEARS
10 PHILADELPHIA DEM MAYORS FOR 61 YEARS

Ban Democrat Mayors instead of guns!!

 
At 10:15 PM, Anonymous James said...

Ok you win that one, how about this one from Republican Offenders. These are only one third of the names on the list. It only covers the years from 98 to 2008.






Abramoff, Jack
Adams, Tom
Adams, Jim
Aiken, Steve
Alishtari, Abdul Tawala Ibn Ali
Allen, Bob
Allen, Claude
Allen, Bill
Alonos, Miram
Anderson, Tom
Ankeney, Randal David
Aragoncillo, Leandro
Atchison, John David R.
Bakker, Jim
Barclay, Bruce
Barnes, Martin G.
Barter, Merrill Robert
Beaird, John
Bena, Parker J.
Beres, Lou
Beverage, Sam
Biggins, Bob
Binder, Alan
Bird, Calvin
Bland, Wilton Frederick
Blessing, Louis
Bloom, Philip H.
Blundell, Brian
Bobrick, Bill
Boggio, Scott
Botes, Stephan
Boylan, Joe
Brady, Kevin
Brock, Darrell
Broderick, Thomas
Brooks, Howard L.
Brown, Shawn
Bryan, John
Bundy, Ted
Burcham, Tom
Burghoff, Matthew
Burt, John Allen
Butler, John
Cagle, Charles "Chig"
Cappelli, Angelo
Carona, Deborah
Carona, Michael S.
Carpenter, Jared
Carroll, Cherie
Casamento, Ricahard
Casseday, Randall
Childers, W.D.
Childs, Keola
Cianci, Vincent
Clark, Donald Ross
Coan, Kevin
Collins, John J.
Colyandro, John
Condos, James
Constantine, Lee
Cooper, Nathan
Corrigan, Larry
Cortelyou, Scott Eller
Coughlin ,Paul
Coutretsis, Andrea
Cowdery, John
Craig, Larry
Cramer, Carey Lee
Crawford, Lester
Cunningham, Randy “Duke”
Curtin, John R.
Dasen Sr., Richard A.
Davis, Ronnie
Davison, Pat
DeLay, Tom
Delgaudio, Richard A.
DeShon, Ronnie Gene
Dibble, Peter
Dickens, Joshua
Disponett, Dave
Doolittle, John
Doyle, Dan
Doyle, Victoria
Doyle, Brian J.
Druce, Thomas
Druen, Dan
Elizondo, Nicholas
Ellef ,Peter
Elliott, Matthew Joseph
Ellis, James
Fabian, Alan
Fawell, Scott
Federici, Italia
Fields, Vincent
Fleischman, Donald
Fletcher, Earnie
Floren, Livvy

 
At 10:22 PM, Anonymous James said...

My last comment was for the 8:59 poster, the 9:07 poster is full of shit and this site proves it.

http://www.cbsnews.com/2300-204_162-10010004-9.html

 
At 11:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous_J said...

James,

I suspect that Anonymous_9:07's full of shit index *** (FOSI) suggests that he is the same individual responsible for a large portion of posts where the FOSI exceeds or is equal to 8 by the poster formally simply known as Anonymous. I believe that several people on this forum may have subconsciously made that connection in the past as he has frequently been referred to as 'asshole' (it might have been me).


You're right James, this is fun...


*** 0=safe to eat, 10=don't step in it.

 
At 2:39 AM, Anonymous Ron Baldwin said...

Anonymous asked Jefferson at 3:52 PM, “Did your pay check change in it’s (sic) net amount due to the Obama tax increases just passed?” This obviously refers to the elimination of the 2% reduction in withholding from wages for Social Security taxes. No other tax increases affecting net pay have been implemented lately.

For the record, the rate of withholding Social Security from employees was reduced from 6.2% to 4.2% in 2011 and 2012 by the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 (P.L. 111-312). Also for the record, withholding for Social Security applied only to wages less than $106,800 in 2011 and $110,100 in 2012.

That 2% reduction was passed in 2010 while the Democrats held the majority in both the House and Senate. Does anyone think that a Republican would want to be associated with a Socialistic-sounding legislation called the “Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010?” Clearly that 2% tax reduction applied only to the poor and the lower middle class and can be credited to the Democrats and President Obama.

Alas in the strident last minute negotiations with House Republicans to avert the infamous “Fiscal Cliff” debacle, that 2% Social Security tax reduction in 2011 and 2012 ended, while the Bush tax cuts were allowed to be extended for those earning less than $400,000 ($450,000 for MFJ) instead of the $200,000 ($250,000 MFJ) limits than the President campaigned on.

Personally I had hoped we would go over the Fiscal Cliff so ALL the Bush tax cuts would be eliminated. That would result in tax rates that we paid in the Clinton era. Somehow we managed to survive those Clinton-era tax rates, and it is clear that the Bush tax cuts (and an unfunded prescription plan and two unfunded wars) only contributed to a fiscal nightmare and a near financial meltdown in 2008.

As to the spending cuts required by the Fiscal Cliff “Plan” it would have been amusing to see the lobbying by well-healed interest groups to limit those spending cuts.

 
At 10:05 AM, Blogger Jefferson's Guardian said...

Anonymous: "I see from the info you provide that you art [sic] a public employee. Am I correct?"

No, although I consider what I do an "art" form in many respects.


"Did your pay check change in it's [sic] net amount due to the Obama tax increases just passed?"

Yes, as Mr. Baldwin very thoughtfully explained (above), there was an increase in the payroll tax (FICA) of 2.0%. If you'll recall, during the height of the Great Recession it was reduced by the same percentage in order to put more dollars in the pockets of working families to help jump-start the economy. With the new year, it reverted back to its original levy.

There was no increase in the federal income tax rate for me. Was there for you?

Also, kindly reply to my original questions (at 10:05AM -- above).

 
At 10:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

James,

Are you sure you want us to go the link you provided?

Guess who is number one on your list?

1. Washington, D.C.

The nation's capital is also the capital of gun deaths. There were 24.5 firearm-related deaths per 100,000 people in Washington, D.C.

Maybe Washington D.C needs stronger gun control laws? Or more law enforcement?

And BTW, states are not the same thing as cites.

Nice try at deflection, fail, as usual.

 
At 10:37 AM, Anonymous Janonymous said...

A reminder while we debate on who is screwing us less, Republican or Democratic politicians - we are still being screwed.

 
At 11:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The question here is whether New York is actually making less tax revenue on cigarettes due to its overtaxing of cigarettes. The question might be speculative if it weren’t for a figure like this:

…The Tax Foundation said that 60.9% of cigarettes sold in New York State are smuggled in from other states.

In New York City the tax rate is even higher, adding another $1.50 per pack to the state rate. It’s not uncommon for smokers to pay $12 for a pack.

The report said that tobacco smuggling and the tax rate have risen practically in tandem since 2006. The New York State tax on cigarettes has risen 190% since that time, as the rate of smuggling increased 170%.

Large scale cigarette smuggling networks in New York State are dominated by tight knit nationality-based networks, primarily families through blood or marriage of Lebanese, Yemeni, Jordanian and Palestinian descent.

Federal and New York State law enforcement officials estimate that nearly 60 percent of all convenience retail outlets in New York City are now Arab-owned, and with the Arab networks compartmentalized by ethnicity and family ties, the risk of infiltration by law enforcement is minimal.

In total, law enforcement officials in New York State estimate that well-organized cigarette smuggling networks generate between $200,000 – $300,000 per week. A large percentage of the money is believed to be sent back to the Middle East where it directly or indirectly finances groups such as Hezbollah, Hamas and Al Qaeda.


My advise, screw the govt and Hezbollah, Hamas and Al Qaeda. Stop smoking now.

 
At 7:24 AM, Blogger Lianne said...

Love this column - can't see a way to follow or get this on RSS feed but I'll try checking back.

Thanks for some good common sense.

Lianne

 
At 9:55 AM, Blogger Harley A. said...

Washington is brilliant. They have everyone arguing about taxes. All the while, our currency is being debauched every day. The stops have been pulled out - money printing to infinity ! Which, incidentally, has a lot to do with FDR & Nixon, to tie back to the author's topic...

FDR's policies create (a lot of) the demand. Nixon creates the endless supply of fiat currency.

 

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