Rendering Surrender

So the drums are pounding yet again by the Bloodthirsty Caucus in American politics: Iran, Syria, Iraq Part Three, it doesn't matter, as long as we can bomb the sand until it glows in the dark. Someone somewhere has to die to satisfy a need to react, oddly from the side of the aisle that most embraces the lessons of Christ, at least when it is convenient. One can hardly think Jesus would approve of such turning of cheeks as when Mr. Trump promises to "bomb the hell out of ISIS."

But what, then, should the American reaction be? How do we handle situations like this and, should we react with force, what should be done after once Surrender is Rendered?
For that, let us look to History:

Following World War I, the idea was to take revenge on Germany, making it impossible for them to become a power in the region again. The crippling payback leveled on Germany lead to an economic disaster that saw the rise of the Nazis.
Following World War II, America poured an never-before-seen amount of money into restoring our former enemies in Germany an Japan. We did not want to see another Hitler come to power. As a result, both have become economic players on the world stage and, until only this recent economic downturn, have managed to nearly eradicate dangerous and fascist elements within their own discourse. It should be noted that the harsh austerity that is feeding a rise in new European fascism is similar to the austerity forced on Germany after World War I.
Following the Korean War, American money again flowed into South Korea in an attempt to show that the American way of life was better than the Soviet influence in North Korea. Years later, the benefits of public American aid can be seen, even from space.

Unfortunately, our approach to conflict changed not long after that. President Eisenhower, three days before leaving office, warned of an insidious threat where people would wage war not for good, not for defense, but for profit. Ever since, the US has suffered from confused and ultimately poisonous policies toward that end.

Following the War in Afghanistan, we again did not spend our money wisely, letting private contractors run wild. Like Iraq, Afghanistan is now destabilized as our troops try to leave, and is in danger of falling back into the grip of the Taliban, rendering our entire invasion violent and pointless
Following the Second Iraq War, America has seemed more interested in punishing the ill-defined enemy than helping the people get back on their feet. As a result we see private corporations fleecing the US government for billions, and a destabilized Iraq leading to the creation of the terrifying Islamic State. Just like in Germany following the Great War, using the stick instead of the carrot leads to madness.
Following the Vietnam War, the US left in disgrace after going to war on shoddy pretenses. Decades later, companies outsource to the Communist country, which now supplies cheap labor for our manufactured consumer products. We did not surrender in Vietnam when Saigon fell, but it seems our big businesses are all too willing to submit to Communism if the price is right

The answer could not be clearer: the answer is not more bombs, the answer is not more hate. When we rendered surrender from the Germans and the Japanese, we did so with the knowledge that we would, and should, help them get back on their feet. For one final example, let us look at the Big American Banks who, after receiving large amounts of support money, are now doing better than ever.
The verdict is in: Public Spending Works. History, and the bank, Says So.
When we run our system for the profit of the few and that alone, we are doing nothing but enriching a small group of people while sowing the seeds for the next nightmare to come. Maniacs in government will then insist again on obliterating the nightmare with no follow-up plan, ensuring the next profitable war. Perhaps these maniacs could take a look at the book they claim to know so well the next time they bring their swaggering bravado to the forefront:

"But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you"
Matthew 5:44

Game Over

Drive through any rural community on any given day, and you're likely to see benefits for some local person just to survive after various sorts of tragedy. This is what makes small towns amazing: people giving out of the goodness of their heart for their numbers. It is what people think of when they think of small-town America: the old tale about borrowing a cup of sugar. However, there is a question we should be asking: why is our economic system so broken that those of us in the majority can't manage our lives if anything goes wrong? Why are we all one incident away from relying on our neighbors, most of whom also don't have any money anymore, to give what they can so we can all survive? This is a system that takes advantage of the best part of America to benefit the worst part of America: obscenely rich, endlessly greedy, and ultimately heartless.
But the funny this is... if those of us down here with the majority started acting like the rich, our system would fall apart. What do you think would happen if all of the "little" folks down here decided we didn't want to pay our taxes anymore? The rich do it: they hide their money offshore or even give up their American citizenship to avoid paying taxes. So what if we all did that?
Or what if we all decided we weren't going to help anyone in need? Every time a rich business owner says he can't afford healthcare for his workers while he lives in a ridiculous mansion, he's doing the same thing. What if we all decided we were going to spend our money on a luxury automobile instead of our children or families, the people that depend on us? When the rich refuse to pay an honest wage but tool around in cars that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, they're doing the same thing.
And when some of us decide we've had enough, when we say we've been taxed too much, or we're too deep in debt, or we're not receiving any help for all we pay in taxes, that's when the knives come out. That's when we're lazy, or we're too entitled, or we're just dumb, poor white trash out here in the sticks. It's always so amazing to see what happens to the morally bankrupt at the very tip top in America when the people who keep their system running try to give them a taste of their own medicine. Their shock and surprise only speaks to how completely disconnected they are from the life of a vast majority of Americans.In short: you need to be able to afford pearls to clutch at them.
We don't have to keep playing this game. We don't have to keep going to the coffee can behind the fridge and pulling out our last five dollars to help the poor family down the street whose kid has cancer. We can start demanding things of the the people with all the money; money they took from us through tax breaks and loopholes, money they take by sending our families to war for their fat wallets, money they take from us every day when we buy their products. We can start demanding that they give us our money back when we vote in people who will hold them accountable, when we start voting in people who are down here with the rest of us and know about the struggle. We need to start putting into office people who will call the rich and powerful out onto the carpet at the Capitol and remind them just who keeps this game running.
Give those way up at the top a taste of their own medicine. Electing more DFL representatives will guarantee that when push comes to shove, it'll be "game over" for their rigged system.

At Your Service,

Doremus Jessup

Fascism and America

America was one of the few world powers that did not succumb to the siren song of fascism following the Great Depression. We all know of the movements in places like Germany & Italy, but the effects of the Depression were farther reaching than that. In Hungary, Gyula Gömbös rose to power in 1932, and the Iron Guard movement swept into power in Romania in 1933. France had a major Fascist riot in 1934 and Greece, Lithuania, Poland and Yugoslavia all developed governments with fascist underpinnings. Brazil and Chile had fascist uprisings and, most distressingly, dictator Francisco Franco had a fascist-style government in place until 1975.

For reference, Watergate concluded in 1974.

These are words from Benito Mussolini's articulation on Fascism, which can be found here in its entirety:
" Fascism wants man to be active and to engage in action with all his energies; it wants him to be manfully aware of the difficulties besetting him and ready to face them. It conceives of life as a struggle in which it behooves a man to win for himself a really worthy place, first of all by fitting himself (physically, morally, intellectually) to become the implement required for winning it. As for the individual, so for the nation, and so for mankind (4). Hence the high value of culture in all its forms (artistic, religious, scientific) (5) and the outstanding importance of education. Hence also the essential value of work, by which man subjugates nature and creates the human world (economic, political, ethical, and intellectual).
This positive conception of life is obviously an ethical one. It invests the whole field of reality as well as the human activities which master it. No action is exempt from moral judgment; no activity can be despoiled of the value which a moral purpose confers on all things. Therefore life, as conceived of by the Fascist, is serious, austere, and religious; all its manifestations are poised in a world sustained by moral forces and subject to spiritual responsibilities. The Fascist disdains an “easy" life (6).
The Fascist conception of life is a religious one (7), in which man is viewed in his immanent relation to a higher law, endowed with an objective will transcending the in­dividual and raising him to conscious membership of a spiritual society. "Those who perceive nothing beyond opportunistic considerations in the religious policy of the Fascist regime fail to realize that Fascism is not only a system of government but also and above all a system of thought."

This second block comes from the Fascist Decalogue, to which I have provided the link as well.

1. Know that the Fascist and in particular the soldier, must not believe in perpetual peace.
2. Days of imprisonment are always deserved.
3. The nation serves even as a sentinel over a can of petrol.
4. A companion must be a brother, first, because he lives with you, and secondly because he thinks like you.
5. The rifle and the cartridge belt, and the rest, are confided to you not to rust in leisure, but to be preserved in war.
6. Do not ever say "The Government will pay . . . " because it is you who pay; and the Government is that which you willed to have, and for which you put on a uniform.
7. Discipline is the soul of armies; without it there are no soldiers, only confusion and defeat.
8. Mussolini is always right.
9. For a volunteer there are no extenuating circumstances when he is disobedient.
10. One thing must be dear to you above all: the life of the Duce.

 The ideas laid forth here are similar, if not identical, to the ideas currently being trumpeted by the American Republican party: it has its own media, it has its own culture. The current American Republican can exist in an echo chamber where only its ideas are championed: it can buy Republican movies, watch Republican TV, read Republican books, and have Republican discussions with other Republicans on places such as Conservapedia.

(According to Conservapedia, Mussolini loved FDR's ideas so much... he then went to war with him less than ten years later.)

Now is the age of Donald Trump and permanent posturing. The world must be kept safe for the majority white, majority rich, and majority sociopathic. Anyone who doesn't agree with you must be wrong, or there's some sinister motive keeping your one correct truth from being heard. This close-minded, hateful and violent ideology thrives on perceived victimhood, driving a culture of conspiracy and cover-up that borders on fetishism. Fearing that their time as lords of Earth is coming to an end, they wish to strike out at anything contrary, and attempt at all costs to remove the idea of compromise. The increasing insular nature of the American Republican party, seen most disturbingly in the maniacal "Tea Party" movement, is nothing more than a move toward fascist policies that seek to hold up a shrinking minority of Americans to be worshiped by the rest of society, fattened by government, and most importantly, never questioned or challenged in the hegemony they have created.

There is no better time and no better way to say it. There is fascism in America. It is coming, and it can happen here. In many ways, it already is. I leave you with those quote, often misattributed to the author Sinclair Lewis, and explained here:
  • When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.
    • Many variants of this exist, but the earliest known incident of such a comment appears to be a partial quote from James Waterman Wise, Jr., reported in a 1936 issue of The Christian Century that in a recent address here before the liberal John Reed club said that Hearst and Coughlin are the two chief exponents of fascism in America. If fascism comes, he added, it will not be identified with any "shirt" movement, nor with an "insignia," but it will probably be "wrapped up in the American flag and heralded as a plea for liberty and preservation of the constitution."[1]
    • Another early quote is that of Halford E. Luccock, in Keeping Life Out of Confusion (1938): When and if fascismcomes to America it will not be labeled "made in Germany"; it will not be marked with a swastika; it will not even be called fascism; it will be called, of course, "Americanism." Harrison Evans Salisbury in 1971 remarked about Lewis: "Sinclair Lewis aptly predicted in It Can't Happen Here that if fascism came to America it would come wrapped in the flag and whistling 'The Star Spangled Banner.'" [2]
  1. The Christian Century, Volume 53, Feb 5, 1936, p 245
  2. p. 29, The Many Americas Shall Be One, Harrison Evans Salisbury. Published by W. W. Norton, 1971.
Franklin Roosevelt kept America from slipping into fascism in the 1930s and, make no mistake, the frustration and fear felt by many Americans whose lives were shattered by the Depression caused a significant growth of fascist support in pre-New-Deal America. It was only through those massive social programs began by FDR and continued even under Republicans like Eisenhower that America was able to become the booming social democracy that was the world's envy in the 1950s and 1960s... but the Americans with fascist ideas never really went away. Now, with America crawling ever so slowly out of another economic collapse, the worst since the Depression, we see the fascists once again surfacing to prey on fear and anger. We can't let them. If the Reagan Revolution set the stage for this collapse, and it did, it must now be time for a Roosevelt Revolution to return America to the great social contract and social democracy that brought about our last Golden Age, and can bring us into another.

At Your Service,

Doremus Jessup

What is a fascist?

The following definition comes from the website of King's College. The full text can be found here:

Fascism can be defined as a political attitude and mass movement that arose during time between the first and second World War. Fascism is the attitude of giving full interest in economic, social, and military power to a dominant race or state lead by a single dominant leader. Fascism basically rejected the idea of Socialism, Capitalism, and Democracy. Fascism’s are single-party dictatorships characterized by terrorism and police surveillance. It focuses on ethnicity and “our” race being better than “your” race. Fascism isn’t limited to one culture alone. Each culture can believe that it is better and each person can consider himself to be better than his fellow man. Fascism is used to categorize censorship and oppression. Ones who take away freedom from others can be considered fascist.

In this day and age of reactionary political correctness, it is often seen as going too far to label someone as a "fascist." This is, of course, discounting the fringe mania of the past few years wherein a compromising American President has been repeatedly called everything from a socialist to a Nazi to, yes, a fascist for the egregious crime of wanting people to have affordable access to private-run health care. Yet, for all of the furor and hatred on the far right of the current American political spectrum that has been given not only credence by right-wing leaders, but has been embraced by several prominent Republicans, there is little to none of the same boisterous opposition and loosely-reality-based hyperbole coming from the opposite direction.

It is not hyperbole or out of the question to label the current dangerous right-wing shift as a movement toward fascism in America. The last time fascism began gaining ground in the western world followed the Great Depression, a time of great uncertainty, fear, and anxiety after the collapse of the worldwide financial market. Here again we are faced with crisis, both foreign and domestic, and it is not unfair nor untruthful to say that regular, everyday Americans are afraid again. In all honesty, they have every right to be.
However, fear is irrational and will often lead to a suspension of disbelief when it comes to facts, truth, decency, decorum, and compassion. The very idea is "I need to worry about myself, and I need a leader who will take care of me and no one else." This selfishness is understandable, but at this time when our outlook is bleakest that we all should be banding together the most... but we won't while we still have leaders who want to stoke those fires of fear and ignorance for their own greed and personal gain.

Here are definitions from the link above:
Fascism is the attitude of giving full interest in economic, social, and military power to a dominant race or state lead by a single dominant leader.

This is today's Republican party, plain and simple. Mitt Romney said that he was not worried about the very poor. Weeks later, the hard-right governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker, claimed that the current President, Barack Obama, was licking his wounds after a tough debate by hiding out in "one of the most liberal places in the nation." This would be a standard claim... if it was not referring to the capital city of Walker's own state, Madison. This statement is openly practicing divisive policy and statements, seeking only to give support to those who believe, think, and act like themselves. This Republican party is going out of its way to "other" anyone who doesn't join in lock step with their policies, as evidenced by the expulsion of formerly moderate Republicans like Dick Lugar in Indiana for favor of more "ideologically pure" candidates who are championing a far-right, anti-immigrant, anti-gay, anti-woman agenda. This is policy and thought put in place to champion one group: America's new wealthy, landed aristocracy.
The plan is, in the words of Scott Walker, to "divide and conquer." If you turn the different groups of Americans against each other, and encourage such fanatical bonding inside those groups, the American population is weak and easy to exploit. Like dough improperly stretched on a pizza pan, you get pockets of half-baked mess and the rest of it gets burned. There was a small amount of fuss made over a comment made by Mr. Romney's campaign during a disastrous trip to England that the current President, a man of African-American descent, did not have the correct "Anglo-Saxon values." A Romney surrogate has been quoted as saying that "this President needs to learn how to be an American." Signs and t-shirts have shown up urging Americans to "put the white back in the White House," and directly preceding the last presidential debate a surrogate of Fox News claimed that the President would "throw spears" at the debate. This racially charged rhetoric against what should have been a landmark, America's first black president, further lends credence to the fact that today's Republicans are pursuing a fascist policy.

Fascism’s are single-party dictatorships characterized by terrorism and police surveillance. It focuses on ethnicity and “our” race being better than “your” race.

This current Republican party has been chastised for wire-tapping American citizens without warrants. Recently, the Republicans have taken aim at removing abortion rights for American women, citing faulty science and backwards doctrines in order to justify seemingly knowing what is best for the young women of this nation, even going so far as championing and passing legislation that requires women to undergo state-mandated, forced, and unwanted vaginal probings. Several Republican controlled legislatures are now trying to make it harder to vote for a disproportionately minority segment of their populations. A Republican senator was quoted as saying that the Republican party needed to excite within its base "angry white guys" in order to win the last Presidential election. Every policy choice and rhetorical movement in the Republican party, particularly since the year 2010, has been to marginalize and attempt to hold on to power for a group of Americans than are seeing their percentage of the population and their power within the American system wane as a new and increasingly racially mixed generation begins its rise. There is no other word to describe this drastic shift in the Republican party towards racist, sexist, and classist policies than Fascism.
This is not hyperbole. This is not propaganda. This is fact. The Republican party is going down the most dangerous road, following a tactic of preying on fear and using convenient scapegoats to shake loose an electorate at a time when it is made to seem like all is falling apart and people are willing to believe anything to make sure that someone will make everything better. This is a dangerous political movement that, left unchecked and unchallenged, can bring dark days for America.

At Your Service,

Doremus Jessup

The Danger of American Fascism

The following was written by American Vice President Henry Wallace. The text was taken from this website:

An article in the New York Times, April 9, 1944.
From Henry A. Wallace, Democracy Reborn (New York, 1944), edited by Russell Lord, p. 259.

  1. On returning from my trip to the West in February, I received a request from The New York Times to write a piece answering the following questions:
    1. What is a fascist?
    2. How many fascists have we?
    3. How dangerous are they?
  2. A fascist is one whose lust for money or power is combined with such an intensity of intolerance toward those of other races, parties, classes, religions, cultures, regions or nations as to make him ruthless in his use of deceit or violence to attain his ends. The supreme god of a fascist, to which his ends are directed, may be money or power; may be a race or a class; may be a military, clique or an economic group; or may be a culture, religion, or a political party.
  3. The perfect type of fascist throughout recent centuries has been the Prussian Junker, who developed such hatred for other races and such allegiance to a military clique as to make him willing at all times to engage in any degree of deceit and violence necessary to place his culture and race astride the world. In every big nation of the world are at least a few people who have the fascist temperament. Every Jew-baiter, every Catholic hater, is a fascist at heart. The hoodlums who have been desecrating churches, cathedrals and synagogues in some of our larger cities are ripe material for fascist leadership.
  4. The obvious types of American fascists are dealt with on the air and in the press. These demagogues and stooges are fronts for others. Dangerous as these people may be, they are not so significant as thousands of other people who have never been mentioned. The really dangerous American fascists are not those who are hooked up directly or indirectly with the Axis. The FBI has its finger on those. The dangerous American fascist is the man who wants to do in the United States in an American way what Hitler did in Germany in a Prussian way. The American fascist would prefer not to use violence. His method is to poison the channels of public information. With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power.
  5. If we define an American fascist as one who in case of conflict puts money and power ahead of human beings, then there are undoubtedly several million fascists in the United States. There are probably several hundred thousand if we narrow the definition to include only those who in their search for money and power are ruthless and deceitful. Most American fascists are enthusiastically supporting the war effort. They are doing this even in those cases where they hope to have profitable connections with German chemical firms after the war ends. They are patriotic in time of war because it is to their interest to be so, but in time of peace they follow power and the dollar wherever they may lead.
  6. American fascism will not be really dangerous until there is a purposeful coalition among the cartelists, the deliberate poisoners of public information, and those who stand for the K.K.K. type of demagoguery.
  7. The European brand of fascism will probably present its most serious postwar threat to us via Latin America. The effect of the war has been to raise the cost of living in most Latin American countries much faster than the wages of labor. The fascists in most Latin American countries tell the people that the reason their wages will not buy as much in the way of goods is because of Yankee imperialism. The fascists in Latin America learn to speak and act like natives. Our chemical and other manufacturing concerns are all too often ready to let the Germans have Latin American markets, provided the American companies can work out an arrangement which will enable them to charge high prices to the consumer inside the United States. Following this war, technology will have reached such a point that it will be possible for Germans, using South America as a base, to cause us much more difficulty in World War III than they did in World War II. The military and landowning cliques in many South American countries will find it attractive financially to work with German fascist concerns as well as expedient from the standpoint of temporary power politics.
  8. Fascism is a worldwide disease. Its greatest threat to the United States will come after the war, either via Latin America or within the United States itself.
  9. Still another danger is represented by those who, paying lip service to democracy and the common welfare, in their insatiable greed for money and the power which money gives, do not hesitate surreptitiously to evade the laws designed to safeguard the public from monopolistic extortion. American fascists of this stamp were clandestinely aligned with their German counterparts before the war, and are even now preparing to resume where they left off, after "the present unpleasantness" ceases:
  10. The symptoms of fascist thinking are colored by environment and adapted to immediate circumstances. But always and everywhere they can be identified by their appeal to prejudice and by the desire to play upon the fears and vanities of different groups in order to gain power. It is no coincidence that the growth of modern tyrants has in every case been heralded by the growth of prejudice. It may be shocking to some people in this country to realize that, without meaning to do so, they hold views in common with Hitler when they preach discrimination against other religious, racial or economic groups. Likewise, many people whose patriotism is their proudest boast play Hitler's game by retailing distrust of our Allies and by giving currency to snide suspicions without foundation in fact.
  11. The American fascists are most easily recognized by their deliberate perversion of truth and fact. Their newspapers and propaganda carefully cultivate every fissure of disunity, every crack in the common front against fascism. They use every opportunity to impugn democracy. They use isolationism as a slogan to conceal their own selfish imperialism. They cultivate hate and distrust of both Britain and Russia. They claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. They demand free enterprise, but are the spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest. Their final objective toward which all their deceit is directed is to capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, they may keep the common man in eternal subjection.
  12. Several leaders of industry in this country who have gained a new vision of the meaning of opportunity through co-operation with government have warned the public openly that there are some selfish groups in industry who are willing to jeopardize the structure of American liberty to gain some temporary advantage. We all know the part that the cartels played in bringing Hitler to power, and the rule the giant German trusts have played in Nazi conquests. Monopolists who fear competition and who distrust democracy because it stands for equal opportunity would like to secure their position against small and energetic enterprise. In an effort to eliminate the possibility of any rival growing up, some monopolists would sacrifice democracy itself.
  13. It has been claimed at times that our modern age of technology facilitates dictatorship. What we must understand is that the industries, processes, and inventions created by modern science can be used either to subjugate or liberate. The choice is up to us. The myth of fascist efficiency has deluded many people. It was Mussolini's vaunted claim that he "made the trains run on time." In the end, however, he brought to the Italian people impoverishment and defeat. It was Hitler's claim that he eliminated all unemployment in Germany. Neither is there unemployment in a prison camp.
  14. Democracy to crush fascism internally must demonstrate its capacity to "make the trains run on time." It must develop the ability to keep people fully employed and at the same time balance the budget. It must put human beings first and dollars second. It must appeal to reason and decency and not to violence and deceit. We must not tolerate oppressive government or industrial oligarchy in the form of monopolies and cartels. As long as scientific research and inventive ingenuity outran our ability to devise social mechanisms to raise the living standards of the people, we may expect the liberal potential of the United States to increase. If this liberal potential is properly channeled, we may expect the area of freedom of the United States to increase. The problem is to spend up our rate of social invention in the service of the welfare of all the people.
  15. The worldwide, agelong struggle between fascism and democracy will not stop when the fighting ends in Germany and Japan. Democracy can win the peace only if it does two things:
    1. Speeds up the rate of political and economic inventions so that both production and, especially, distribution can match in their power and practical effect on the daily life of the common man the immense and growing volume of scientific research, mechanical invention and management technique.
    2. Vivifies with the greatest intensity the spiritual processes which are both the foundation and the very essence of democracy.
  16. The moral and spiritual aspects of both personal and international relationships have a practical bearing which so-called practical men deny. This dullness of vision regarding the importance of the general welfare to the individual is the measure of the failure of our schools and churches to teach the spiritual significance of genuine democracy. Until democracy in effective enthusiastic action fills the vacuum created by the power of modern inventions, we may expect the fascists to increase in power after the war both in the United States and in the world.
  17. Fascism in the postwar inevitably will push steadily for Anglo-Saxon imperialism and eventually for war with Russia. Already American fascists are talking and writing about this conflict and using it as an excuse for their internal hatreds and intolerances toward certain races, creeds and classes.
  18. It should also be evident that exhibitions of the native brand of fascism are not confined to any single section, class or religion. Happily, it can be said that as yet fascism has not captured a predominant place in the outlook of any American section, class or religion. It may be encountered in Wall Street, Main Street or Tobacco Road. Some even suspect that they can detect incipient traces of it along the Potomac. It is an infectious disease, and we must all be on our guard against intolerance, bigotry and the pretension of invidious distinction. But if we put our trust in the common sense of common men and "with malice toward none and charity for all" go forward on the great adventure of making political, economic and social democracy a practical reality, we shall not fail.

Marshalling the Troops

Warmongers, fearmongers, and modern day crusaders are already sharpening their blades in glorious anticipation of another Middle Eastern military quagmire. Big money stands to get even bigger with their rich Congressmen of choice pounding the drum for war they never fought in and will never have to fight. We have local American figures pledging to battle perceived "Muslim" invaders and, in the words of a Texas sheriff, "send them to hell." All of this overheated rhetoric speaks to a certain percentage of this nation hungry for war, while the heart of the country simply wishes for the fighting to end. We've listened to the fearmongers, and out of those warnings of Saddam's mushroom cloud we now see instead an American-caused instability that has given us ISIS... which the same fearmongers claim can be defeated by further destabilizing the region.
But it wasn't always this way.

There was a time where the preferred action to international trouble or instability wasn't simply to "hit them so hard and so often that every time they hear a propeller on a plane or a jet aircraft engine that they urinate down both legs." In fact, there was once a time where the sound of American propellers was actually greeted with joy and jubilation in countries we had only recently stopped bombing. From 1948-1949, American planes, formerly engines of war, were converted into support vessels to air-drop much needed supplies into a city that had fallen behind Winston Churchill's Iron Curtain. It was called the Berlin Airlift, and it was part of a larger idea known as the Marshall plan, named after then-Secretary of State George Marshall. Starting in 1948, the United States gave $13 billion dollars in order to help rebuild the Europe that had just barely survived a catastrophic conflict. To put that number in context, the USA's GDP in 1948 was $258 billion. We gave food, supplies, and money to help rebuild Europe after spending billions before to decimate it... but why?

Because people like George Marshall understood that if we do not support our newly vanquished foes, they will only grow to resent us, and take up arms against us in the future. It was a lesson learned by the awful agreements that ended the Great War, World War I, only 30 years prior, that had plunged Germany into a spiral of hatred that led to the rise of Hitler himself. The United States had the foresight to understand that not everyone in Germany was a Nazi, or a murderer, and that if we work to win their hearts and minds with building instead of bombs, with food instead of fire, we can prevent the next war and, in fact, bring Europe back from the brink instead of plunging it into chaos, as we saw in the dreadfully mismanaged and underfunded world behind Stalin's curtain.

The remedy lies in breaking the vicious circle and restoring the confidence of the European people in the economic future of their own countries and of Europe as a whole. The manufacturer and the farmer throughout wide areas must be able and willing to exchange their products for currencies the continuing value of which is not open to question.
~George Marshall, at Harvard, June 5 1947
Would that we had that same foresight now.

The doctrine now is the Bush Doctrine, now seemingly perplexingly adopted by Barack Obama. Bomb them first, bomb them second, and bomb them last. It's a swaggering sort of bravado only seen by those who have never seen the battle, and do not possess the empathy that tells of forgiving your enemies. The overwhelming military might championed by what Eisenhower warned as a military industrial complex following World War II has done nothing to improve relations or, arguably, to win us any engagement following 1945. We fought to a stalemate in Korea, we defoliated Vietnam, and we've blasted away at brushfire wars ever since with little to no success. We ruined Iraq by bombing it with no reason or forethought, and now our prescription to combat the festering wounds of our own mistakes is simply to tear the stitches open again. Perhaps, before another blunder commences in the Middle East, we should look to the past and understand that sometimes it is better not to bomb... or, at least, when the bombing is over, not to threaten to bomb again.

There is a terrific story out of the Berlin Airlift that is so perfect only History could have made it so: Gail Halvorsen, forever known as the Candy Bomber. Halvorsen, a C-54 pilot, chatted with some German youth behind a barbed wire fence after one of his humanitarian drops, and they asked him if he had gum or candy to give. Halvorsen then promised the children he would bring them gum and candy on his next flight in, and would "wiggle his wings" so they children would know which one was him. As the legend of "Uncle Wiggly Wings" grew, other pilots wanted to help, candy was donated, and handkerchiefs were even fashioned into tiny parachutes for the candy drops. When asked about whether or not he was essentially bribing the children, as Soviet officials behind the blockade had complained, Halvorsen's response was simple:

"Kids are kids everywhere."

In this time of war mania and blind hatred, I think America needs a few more candy bombers and a few more kind souls wishing to help rather than to hurt. Does it really take a horrible, nearly cataclysmic war for such kindness to grow out of the ashes? Do we really have to go farther in this madness to come back from the brink, or can't we simply learn from the lessons of History this time and, instead of marshaling the troops for combat, why don't we Marshall the troops for peace?

At Your Service,

Doremus Jessup

The Skills to Pay the Bills

You'll often hear folks bemoaning the lack of good technical skills and skilled labor workers to fill skilled labor jobs. This comes up every now and again, and always there's this romantic picture of the hardworking and dignified laborer with his lunch in a metal box and the punch clock and the good old American spirit, and gosh darn it to heck these new workers are just too lazy to understand that sometimes you have to do hard work to support your family and life. They just don't understand, as the new Speaker of the House Paul Ryan once quipped, the "Dignity of Work."

That's because there is very little dignity left in it. And it is not the fault of the workers.

While there is a wonderful feeling at the end of the day for a job well done, that feeling evaporates very quickly when your paycheck can't cover the basic costs of life. Far be it for executives to take a cut in pay to allow their workers a decent life (unless you work at Costco or a few others) and most corporations are too terrified of angering stockholders to attempt to help their workers. Working for eight or nine dollars an hour is a no-go for many people, unless they want to start running in the red permanently, which leads to more scorn from the maniacal conservative media saying they are responsible for getting themselves in this situation to begin with. Now, companies are starting to hire "financial consultants" for pennies on the dollar for what a wage hike would cost in order to properly school their workers on how to properly use their money.

Not only is it your fault I don't pay you enough, they say, it's also your fault for not handling the money properly.

But it is not the fault of the workers.

Today's laborers are widely overworked, underpaid, and underrepresented by unions. Before you go and call them lazy, please keep in mind that they are often working 3-4 jobs because one labor job, no matter how dignified, won't pay them enough to survive and will leave them too tired for other jobs they need to help them survive. Through starvation wages and outright contempt for their workers, business leaders have robbed whatever dignity was once in low-skill and even skilled-labor positions.

There's a lot of talk about a "skills gap," and one of the very, very strong lines coming out of this turgid recovery has been that we only need to train for the different jobs of the new economy and things will get back on track. We have to go back to school, go to tech school, and maybe find a scholarship to help us along the way. However, this places an unbelievable burden on people people who are already convinced that the larger world does not care about them, and that they will never have now-considered luxuries like their own home, or retirement. Even the conservative Wall Street Journal has recently admitted that simply gumption and bootstraps is not enough to pull many American workers out of their collective doldrums. What's to stop another crisis, again engineered by the golden parachute crowd, from suddenly crushing tomorrow what is a promising job today? How can you ask millions of Americans who went to school to be teachers, when it was said that job had the most growth potential pre-crisis, to go back to school and wager their own money all over again in a rigged career roulette game?

I understand what Mike Rowe is trying to do and, problems with funding aside, it is incredibly admirable, but it is only a band-aid on a gaping wound. It is mortgaging the future for today's survival, and we can do better. Simply telling someone to go and study or train for yet another job is like breaking the axle on your car and, instead of fixing it, grafting a fifth wheel onto it that works pretty well, but you still have that fourth wheel flopping uselessly as you go down the road. If this situation doesn't get fixed at the top, we might have entire generations with vestigial skills and talents going to waste, and your next Great American Thinkers might very well be stifled or outright throttled into intellectual death while they flip burgers and staple cardboard boxes together, just to make enough money to survive.

We can't keep living like this. This is not good enough. It has now been said that private donation alone is not enough to fix all of this. We need top-down reform of the financial systems, education systems, and labor systems to return this country to where it needs to be. What is being advocated in the small-batch private-run gumption and bootstraps approach is literally the same approach Herbert Hoover tried in the wake of the Great Depression. It is simply not enough. It didn't work then, and it won't work now. We need government action, we need serious reform, or else we're weakening the nation and twiddling our fingers until the next crisis hits.

At Your Service,

Doremus Jessup.

The Lessons of 1968

During the 2012 Election, I found many parallels to the 1948 election: a liberal (or perceived liberal) incumbent President running against what Republicans thought would be a strong contender. The liberal (in this case Harry Truman) wanted to prioritize things like healthcare for Americans, which was something Democratic candidates would gain ground on inch by inch, with the passing Medicare, Medicaid and, most recently the Affordable Care Act. In the 1948 election, there was much hand-wringing over whether or not the liberal incumbent could keep his office over a candidate that seemed tailor-made for the Presidency: good looking, a clear gaze, and a very "presidential" look. All through the campaign, the media said the incumbent President was on defense, and probably wouldn't win, going so far as to print newspapers saying Truman had lost to Thomas Dewey of New York.
Truman didn't lose, and the rest is History.

In 2012, we had a similar story of the media painting the President as having a fight on his hands, but when the votes were counted, President Obama easily beat Mitt Romney. Instead of the famous newspaper photo, we got Karl Rove's famous on-air meltdown at Fox News. Both claiming what had actually happened couldn't be true.

Now, as 2016 approaches, the question looms: what historical quirks will show their heads this time? Will it resemble Franklin Roosevelt's confident win in 1936? 1992's fractured electorate bringing Bill Clinton into the White House? Or could we see a repeat of the Obama-style groundswell in 2008?

I think, as much as the opinion of old Doremus is concerned, that we should look to the election of 1968. A turbulent time both foreign and domestic, with riots at home and wars abroad. A time of great upheaval as a massive generation comes of age in the nation. The old specters of race and hatred bubbling to the surface once again, leading to insurgent candidates on the Republican side that threaten to jeopardize the party itself.

And, most importantly: a Democratic primary split between the young and rebellious and the old and staid, leading to a compromise candidate with years of experience within the government structure but lukewarm support among the base. It breaks my heart to say it, but Minnesota's own Hubert H. Humphrey, a good man, wound up being the sacrificial lamb to a Republican party that embraced fear and racism, and the failure of a Democratic party suffering indigestion as a new generation looked for their voices to be heard. If we are not careful, we could see a similar fractured base leading to ruin again in 2016.

America knows it does not want another Presidency like Richard Nixon's that started in 1968, but this time around we have the ability to vote in even worse candidates who will do nothing good for the vast majority of Americans. The Democratic Party needs to act quickly and with genuine interest to balance out the young with the experienced, the new with the old and the idealistic with the traditional if it wants to secure a motivated electorate come next November.

As a cautionary tale, I present the following PBS documentary "Nixon's the One." If you have the time, please watch it and understand the lessons of 1968 so that we do not repeat them in 2016. America can scarce afford another Nixon... or worse.

At Your Service,

Doremus Jessup. 

Broadcasting in Stereo...types

Few things in life are simple: Math, at its core, it simple. As is language, or survival. But humanity has evolved beyond the basics, now reaching to the stars themselves while simultaneously looking ever deeper into our own bodies and what makes up the very stuff of our world. It is easy to claim that the shift in American culture over the past fifty years is something simple: anti-intellectualism, the stoking of the fires of hate and ignorance, and in some respects that is true. But, as I said earlier, few things are so exquisitely simple as that.
Take, for example, small town America. To some, it is a bastion of traditional values and the very picture we have in our mind when we think of This American Life or that blanket term "Americana." For others, it is a sprawling land of flyover states populated by too few people and too many cows, and in their mind it is not always clear which would be the better voting population. If we flip it around, we can take the Rural viewpoint to the Urban jungle. To those in the sticks, it is a hive of scum and villainy, smog and ill repute, but for those who call these cities home it can be a land of hardscrabble, hardworking people who take the hardships of life on the chin and persevere all the same. Rural America boasts that city folk couldn't handle a day on the farm, and Urban America maintains the trope of the naive farm girl devoured by a big city she will never fully understand. Yet the truth of this matter is neither of these: not idyllic or idle, not Ward Cleaver or Walter White, but somewhere inbetween.

You might realize that I am speaking in sweeping generalizations. Stereotypes, even. Tropes and idioms well known for most of our country's history. And why is it that someone in Canton, Minnesota thinks they know what life is like in Compton, California? It's media: television, radio, print, and the new kid on the block, digital media. Mass media is all of its forms has to, by definition of its name, appeal to a large audience, and when that is the case nuance and subtlety will always lose out to broad parody and stereotyping. There's the old chestnut "will it play in Peoria" meaning that a show about people living in New York will not survive if it cannot present something accessible to a nationwide, or worldwide, audience. Even digital media, often lauded for its small-batch, individualized approach to entertainment, has pan-continental smashes like "Gangnam Style" focused on one idea: he's doing a silly dance.

Why does this work? Simple: if it is easy to digest, it is easy to consume. If it is easy to consume, it is easy to purchase. If it is easy to purchase, it is easy to produce, and if it is easy to produce, it is easy to profit.
Let's think about the media landscape of those Halcyon days of the 1950s. While you had the hallmarks of todays media: sitcoms, police dramas, newsmagazines, you also had what we now consider artifacts of the time like "Ozzie and Harriet" or "Leave it to Beaver" and experimental shows and formats that can't seem to survive in today's much-larger media landscape. Recent attempts to revive variety shows and teleplays have not fared well, while those same shows were extremely popular in years past.Why?
There was more room to experiment in past decades because there was just more room in the media landscape, period. Thanks to deregulation and a Congress bought and paid for, we now have six media companies owning the majority of what gets put out there, and that includes news, music, movies, television, and some parts of the internet. When the market gets concentrated to this amount, when billion-dollar mergers become commonplace every couple of years, it becomes strikingly clear that there is one and only one motivation for everything that is said, done, or put out into our media culture. Profit.
And how do you make profit? Not by putting out bold, interesting television, but by going to the same well of tried and true, low cost and high margin methods to get what you need, what your massive corporation needs, and what it needs is MONEY. And there is money in old, comfortable stereotypes, which the current crop of media thrives on to an almost embarrassing degree.
Think to yourself: would The Twilight Zone get made today? Would Network? Laugh-In? Would something bold and challenging come out of Viacom, or the NBC Universal Comcast behemoth? Instead, we've seen some of the most daring and groundbreaking media come out of Netflix which is internet based. The internet by and large has allowed we the people to wield a cudgel against the samey, insulting pap put out by the media giants, but they don't know how to show anything else because they literally cannot think of anything but what will make them money.
So, what does this have to do with City Mouse and Country Mouse?
We're being fed stereotypes. We're being told that this person is different and that this person is bad. The media companies are putting out easily digestible dreck and hoping to continue these fears and hatred because that means you will buy season 700 of Fat Guy and Hot Wife. This is having a toxic effect on how we see the world, not just as divides between cultural groups, but with our country as a whole. I was reading a National Geographic article about the history of the World's Fair, a former gold standard of world culture and the idealism of the Space Age. Why are we no longer making these World's Fairs the destinations they once were? It's not because people are inherently getting more stupid or vapid, it's because they are being instructed to be.

Don't think that everyone in the country is Honey Boo Boo: most farmers will be able to talk circles around you on a variety of scientific and mathematic processes. The tragedy of it is that, due to ugly media conglomerates, they sit atop a $250,000 combine harvester, harvesting corn that has been painstakingly monitored for proper levels of Potassium and other minerals in the soil, all the while thinking they must be dumb hicks. It's time to throw this false picture away, and realize what can be accomplished.
Conversely, there are people who can navigate New York City flawlessly, design an app or product that further increases the ease with which we live our daily lives, but will balk at keeping an herb garden, or changing their oil, or trying to traverse gravel roads. They can't do that; they're city people. The news told them so. It's time to throw this false picture away, and realize what can be accomplished.

We need to bring Americans back together in the spirit of optimism and wonder that first gave us the best standard of living in the world, and the first step to that is to break down the corporate walls. Shatter the corporate media that locks down our brains, destroy the corporate food that poisons us, and break the corporate stranglehold on our politics and policies of daily life. We must throw away our preconceptions and our stereotypes and work together like we did once before when we beat back the Nazis and made America the envy of the world. It's time to end the cruel corporate joke being played on us by those who are richest beyond our possible collected imaginations. First, we break their hold, and then we get our money back.
Then? The future is up to us, the people. As it should be.

Extant, adj: still in existence; surviving

Forget Generation X or Y, we as Americans are facing a Generation Extant: a generation left over to survive on the cast-offs of the new breed of Robber Barons in America's New Gilded Age. The deregulation and destruction of our American democracy through the continued policies of Reaganism has found us ruled by a wealthy Oligarchy instead of a representative republic. Those of us now struggling to get by in this system that glorifies greed and values profits above the very cost of human life have become the new underclass, whether we like it or not. Those who are making it work any way they can, all while knowing your parents, or your grandparents, or even your brothers and sisters had an easier crack at it, you are your own generation, extant from the mind-boggling wealth and power now enjoyed by a morally bankrupt few, a level we here at the bottom could not even begin to fathom if we tried. As of this writing, the 400 richest Americans are worth as much as the bottom 50% of the country. 158 families in this country of over 300 million people have already spent 176 million dollars toward the 2016 campaign. When you're down here with the rest of us, a number like $176 million seems cartoonish; even if you try to imagine it, you find you can't even find uses for all of it. This doesn't even scratch the surface of the wealth known by Reagan's American Oligarchs, and the rest of us are only serfs on the plantation.

To the rich that run the system, there are only two groups, two races, two classes and two generations: us and everyone else. There is no difference in race, or creed, or gender, or orientation: to the rich, we are all the same. By that token, if we were to come together, without race, without creed, but merely as those who want a more perfect union untouched by greed, we can and we should enact policies to tax the rich.

When I say we should tax the rich, I'm not talking about anyone you know, or anyone I know. In Fillmore County alone, the number of people in the top tax bracket can be counted on one hand. Fillmore County isn't even a drop in the bucket, wealthwise, and taxing those at the top would do nothing to hurt the situation for the thousands of people who call Fillmore County home. As I have argued before, raising taxes on the wealthiest at the state or federal level is not theft, but merely a return on investment: we invested in the rich by giving them billions in tax cuts, and they squandered or squatted on the money we trusted to them. Now, we want our money back: our schools need improvement, our roads need fixing, but aside from all of that, it's our money, and we want it back. There are a lot more of us than there are of the richest Americans, and all of us banding together, one way or another, can change the course against those who have run off with our money.

First, we can elect people who will pledge to bring the money back to the area any way they know how, and to elect people who will not fear being smeared and attacked by moneyed interests. If that doesn't work, if we continue to be made extant and things continue to deteriorate, then there will soon be no good choice left for those of us in the other half of the country. And it will be only too late for the oligarchs and the crooked bankers, who won't see it coming until the first brick comes through their window. I don't want to see that happen, but they have locked us out of Eden, and we have committed no sin. It is now time to return to a land of plenty and to cast out the worse angels of our nature from their stranglehold on our government.

At Your Service,

Doremus Jessup

Articles of Warp

Reaganism has brought ruin to America's middle class while making the richest richer than ever before. Productivity and corporate profits have soared while sacrificing the wages and happiness of average Americans on the altar to St. Ronald. One of the hallmarks of the American conservative religion is a fetish for ever-smaller government. The theory goes, despite decades of evidence to the contrary, that removing government oversight, regulation, and taxes will allow a system of perfect economic freedom where the desires of the people will be heard through their purchasing power, or lack thereof. The idea is that, if we just get government out of the picture, we can rejoice in a future of prosperity and that current tender morsel of conservative ecstasy, "liberty."

This idea is, of course, demonstrably false.

There are endless examples of money corrupting throughout all of history, from the gluttonous and unregulated days of Ancient Rome to the laissez faire collapse of the Gilded Age in 1929, but for the sake of brevity we will look at the more recent example of politics. The Citizen's United decision of the Supreme Court has opened the floodgates to unlimited campaign spending, and in only six short years we have seen our government become essentially paralyzed. The rich buy the government, and the rich like the way things are, because they are rich. If the government doesn't do anything, it can't find ways to make the system more equal. After all, the government is supposed to be of, by, and for the people. Unfortunately, when the government is of, by, and for the dollar, corruption reigns and those who cannot afford to have their interests looked after are left behind to rot.

This is the legacy of "small" government: without a watchdog to ensure a level playing field, the rich will spend fractions of their expansive wealth to expand it even more. Greed rules when government doesn't, and a government too small to keep greed in check is the government of Ronald Reagan and Calvin Coolidge, the latter of whom famously quipped "the business of America is business," only to see it all come crashing down. When the sole motivator for a society is getting more and more money, you cannot expect people to be noble.

America tried, long ago, during its difficult first few years, to live by the doctrines of small government. They had just fought a war against a tyrannical king, and to ensure they would not have a new American kingdom they established a government that was deliberately small, weak, and had a heavy reliance on States' Rights. Under what became known as the Articles of Confederation, America was a "firm league of friendship," each with their own laws, borders, and even currency. There was no President, no executive branch, and the federal government had to beg the states for funding because it could not tax.

Clearly, this matches the current conservative dream of a small government, States' Rights America. It was an unmitigated failure. It should be noted as well that the Confederate States of America followed a similar model during their insurrection.

Under the Articles, the government was unable to run the affairs of state, and the states themselves bickered amongst themselves over trade disputes that the federal government had no power to resolve. Though it tried to issue its own money, the federal government became the butt of a contemporary joke when folks would refer to something worthless as "not worth a Continental" dollar. Had Britain decided to strike back against the American rebels during this time, it could have easily drawn and quartered America in the crib because America did not have a standing army, relying mostly on state militias. The system was such a quantifiable mess that men like James Madison and Alexander Hamilton had to advocate for a stronger government in the Federalist Papers, eventually leading to the ratification of the US Constitution in 1787, a mere eleven years after the revolution began.

Men like Hamilton and Madison went on to greatness and helped establish the greatest country this world has ever seen. Anti-federal maniacs like Thomas Paine and Patrick Henry failed to read the writing on the wall, and faded into obscurity, essentially "one-hit wonders" of the American Revolution.

It's often said that America's current crop of maniacal conservatives want to take America back to the 1950s, but as the movement has become more and more poisoned by the will of moneyed interests, the case is becoming increasingly clear that the goal is to go back much, much further. The right-wing obsession is one that wants to bring us back to the days of the Articles of Confederation, when the country was weak and powerless to protect its citizens. Unfortunately, today's biggest threat is not a recolonization effort from England, but rather the corporatization of America at the hands of the richest of the rich, all for want of money.

At Your Service,

Doremus Jessup

History Says So

1929. A worldwide financial meltdown brought on by a massive lack of regulation of the financial industry featuring prominently many people who borrowed beyond their means and couldn't pay back. Compare this to the crisis that began in 2007, where massive lack of regulation of the financial industry featuring prominently many people who borrowed beyond their means and couldn't pay back. Thankfully, President Roosevelt was brought into office to introduce regulation over the rampant and corrupt financial sector, along with ballooning public spending in order to jumpstart the economy.
It's that simple: if the people have money, they spend it, and a business owner gets that money. If the people have more money, they put more money in. When Richard Nixon, a Republican President, was faced with an economic downturn, he admitted that Keynesian economics were necessary, and government had a duty to create jobs.  Dwight Eisenhower, the wholly successful Republican President had tax rates set at nightmarish levels for today's Republican legislatures. This led to one of the most productive and egalitarian society America has ever seen. In fact, it is the very society that comes to mind when one pictures "The American Dream." You must raise taxes on the wealthy to balance the economy and encourage opportunity in times of economic strife. It is a fact you cannot argue with; History Says So.

1954. The Supreme Court decision of Brown v. Board of Education paved the way for integration of African Americans into full and equal standing with the other members of American society. Immediately, those in the former Confederate South cried foul, claiming it was violating their very way of life. However, in the book of History, this is seen as a positive step toward a better future free of such arbitrary discrimination as the color of one's skin.
Today, there is a continuing debate over the issue of Same-Sex Marriage or Marriage Equality. Immediately, those in the former Confederate South cried foul, claiming it was violating their very way of life, but public opinion is already swaying toward a tolerant approach and popular support is behind allowing people to love who they want and marry accordingly. Those who oppose Marriage Equality today will be treated as those who supported segregation in the 1950s and 60s. History Says So.

1898: A battleship is destroyed in Havana Harbor. The Yellow Journalism of the day howled for War with Spain, resulting in several new Imperial colonies for America and a good deal of money for a chosen few, most notably by issuing tainted beef to the US Army.
1964: An incident in the Tonkin Gulf. The United States begins to commit more and more soldiers to the conflict in Vietnam, establishing several no-bid contracts for entrepreneurs for infrastructure in Vietnam.
2003: Following flawed logic and bad intelligence, the United States enters into a senseless war in the country of Iraq for seemingly no reason. The media howls for war. Several companies pocket millions in no-bid contracts. The American people must be better informed about the reasons and necessity for military action, or unscrupulous people will do all they can to profit from war, regardless of the possible deaths of American citizens abroad. History Says So.

And as far as Wall Street is concerned...
1873: Silver speculation causes financial panic.
1884: Gold reserve issues caused a financial panic.
1890: a banking crisis due to the risky investments of one man, Edward Baring.
1893: A panic caused by shaky railroad financing.
1901: Thousands of small investors were ruined when the rich and powerful men behind Standard Oil and the Norhern Pacific Railway had a spat.
1907: Unregulated side bets and  lack of depositor confidence contributed to a financial Panic.

And so on. The regulations put in place by FDR helped to usher in a Great American Prosperity, and it wasn't until they were repealed that the problems of the Gilded Age returned, from the Savings & Loan Crisis of the 1980s to the Financial Crisis of 2007. Without those regulations, the cycle begins again, and we are setting ourselves up for another Great Depression. We need to regulate the banks back to the way they were, or we will endure banking panics and crashes repeatedly, due to the reckless actions of morally bankrupt banks. History Says So.

Sometimes, you wonder if everyone else is too busy "looking forward" to see what might be coming up from behind to devour us. We need a few Historians in Congress to stand up once in a while and say something like "we tried this 70 years ago, and it didn't work then." or "do we really want to make the same mistakes as the crumbling empires of previous eras?" or maybe even simply "this plan will fail."
And when asked why, the reason can be simple: History Says So.

At Your Service,

Doremus Jessup.

CEOh No.

Carly Fiorina. Ben Carson. Donald Trump.
The Republican base has made it clear: we want a President who knows nothing about politics. From Ben Carson's fundamental misunderstanding of the US Constitution, to Carly Fiorina's lies about Planned Parenthood, to nearly everything said by Trump, it's becoming clear that the Republican party is starting to unravel, unable to reign in the Frankenstein's monster of hate and ignorance they have cobbled together over the past 40 years. But above the maniacal conservative arglebargle, one thing is clear:

We get it, Republicans. You're mad as hell. You're sick of the "professional political class." You've put two CEOs and a neurosurgeon at the top of national and New Hampshire polls. Because why not?
Listen to Joel Arends, chairman of Veterans for a Strong America, explain why his group has endorsed Donald Trump. He wants a president with "courage," and he doesn't think experienced politicians have any. "It's time to consider somebody else," Arends said at a Trump rally in Los Angeles. "It's time to say to ourselves, do we really need a former governor?" "No," the crowd roared. "Do we need a current senator?" "No!" "Do we need a reformer businessman?" "Yes!"
Yes, as much as Republicans despise Mitt Romney, they can't quite seem to quit the IDEA of Mitt Romney. "True Conservatives" of America, "Forgotten Men" of America, I will tell you one thing: you most certainly do NOT want a businessman in the Oval Office.
A businessman, a CEO, or whatever cherished title they choose to bestow on themselves, is a terrible public servant by definition. By definition, a businessperson's job is to make money for either him/herself, or for his or her stockholders, the people who make sure he or she can continue to make money. By definition, a businessman will do whatever it takes to ensure his own success or the success of her business, which of course it a function through which he or she can make money.
It all comes down to money. And the President cannot be single-mindedly focused on enriching himself or her own business.
We call them "public servants" for a reason: they are paid through our taxes, they are employed by we the people, they are supposed to do right by the people, not the pocketbook. But, as we have seen increasingly through massive corporations like Turing Pharmaceutical and Volkswagen, companies will routinely work to harm people if it means they can make an extra buck. In the case of Volkswagen, the CEO had absolutely no idea of the misdeeds going on under his watch, which is disturbingly reminiscent of Ronald Reagan's cluelessness during the Iran Contra scandal. The point of our government is not to harm its citizens if it saves someone some cash. The point of our government is to make sure Americans thrive.
For all of his talk of Making America "Great Again," Trump's tax plan undoubtedly benefits the mega-rich... if he can make up his mind about it. Firoina's claim that she "quadrupled its cash flow" while at Hewlett-Packard, she ended up laying off 30,000 working people... to further enrich stockholders. These are not policies you want to see in the White House, unless you're hoping to be one of the lucky few who wouldn't be thrown out of your homes, jobs, or the country itself. And for those of you hoping to be in that lucky few... that train is already full, and they're not taking on anyone else anytime soon.

However, conservatives... if you want to claim that America's President is its CEO, than you should support someone who wants to make their "stockholders," the American people, healthy and prosperous. But if you did that... you'd be supporting Bernie Sanders.

At Your Service,

Doremus Jessup

The Great American Revival Tent

How feel-good politics stunted the course of lasting change in America

I heard, not too long ago, a pundit speaking about how much of a disaster the Democratic nomination of George McGovern was in 1972. According to this pundit, said nomination destroyed the Democratic party for the next twenty years. Now, far be it from me to impugn on the veracity of Fox News contributors, but I feel I must call into light two points of order:

1)The Democrats did all right for themselves, particularly in the House, from 1972-92


2)The 1972 elections were the elections that brought us Watergate, the election where a Republican incumbent thought it necessary to spy on his Democratic challenger in a useless plot for what would turn out to be a landslide election for the incumbent.

And, I suppose if we ignore the election of Democrat Jimmy Carter in 1980, we could say that in Presidential politics, the Democrats did suffer. In fact, one could say that the reasoned, intellectual, issues-driven and fact-based campaigns of serious Democrats like McGovern, Carter and Mondale is what caused the Democrats to endure some difficulty in Presidential politics all the way until 1992, where a "New Democratic Party" was ushered into the White House under one William Jefferson Clinton, who managed to, in his term, repeal the act that held back a tidal wave of irresponsible banking that crashed the economy in 2007 much like it had done in 1929.

Somehow, I don't think FDR would have approved.

But how did we get here? How did the Democrats have to cozy up to these new ideas brought on by Clinton or Gore? How did the old guard like Carter and Mondale get unceremoniously shown the door on the heels of Watergate, a Republican boondoggle and one of the biggest scandals to hit the Presidency? If anything, the Democrats should have run roughshod over the Republicans for those twenty years and beyond, but they didn't. So, what happened?

Ronald Reagan happened. And he brought the Great American Revival Tent with him.

In the current climate of intense polarization that is plaguing Washington and has been doing so in some form or another since the early 1980s, it has become more and more apparent just how important the Watergate affair truly was. Before Watergate, Richard Nixon was considered a savior for the Republican party: his tactics and strategies were thought to have dispelled the spectres of Hoover or Harding from the hearts and minds of the American people while simultaneously putting to bed the moderate policies of Republican Dwight Eisenhower, who had himself named a Vice President named Richard Nixon in the 1950s. It was thought that the Democrats went too far left in the 1968 election, and in response Nixon went hard right, implementing the successful, if suspect "Southern Strategy," turning once solid Democratic Southerners into lifelong Republicans on the heels of sweeping Democratic reforms, mostly in the areas of racial equality. The Republican party was back on track where it belonged, and no one could convince them otherwise. The Democrats, meanwhile, still clung to their own platform of standing up for the little guy, and intellectual, if often far too abstract, esoteric causes for nebulous things like "the greater good." In short, the Democrats had won since the Depression of the 30s by becoming a policy of issues: hard issues, issues that mattered when times were tough.

Then Watergate happened.

It is difficult to understand now, in our culture of constant exposure to corruption and government misdoing, a culture that simply takes it for granted that the government is out for itself and for deep-pocketed donors instead of the little guy, but the revelation of the Watergate crimes shocked America to its core. The President of the United States, the pinnacle of American pride and decency, was caught with his hand in the metaphorical cookie jar. How could this have happened? Spying, wiretapping, break-ins... this is not the way American government should behave! All irony concerning the post-9/11 presidency aside, the country, feeling cheated and betrayed, sunk as a whole into a depression that is indicative of the feelings felt by a cheated spouse or a recent divorcee. "What was the point?" we were left asking, "and what does it all mean? How can we go on being like we were when everything has changed so completely? Government was supposed to be watching out for us, and now... now we just don't know what to do anymore."

Now, there are two ways to combat depression, both for a country at large or for an individual. One method is to force oneself, or be coached by another, into setting the world straight in your own mind, coming to terms with the perceived wrongdoings and frustrations, and effectively gathering up one's bootstraps and soldiering on. "You may have knocked me down," the depressed person might say "but God damn you, you won't knock me out! I'll keep fighting, no matter what it takes, because there is too much to do and to be done, life is too precious to waste like this!" The other method is to subscribe to hucksters and charlatans, who soothe your fragile self and coo softly in your ear that it isn't your fault, and there's nothing you did wrong, and that you don't have to look those troubles in the face, you can go on pretending like nothing is wrong. Your life is too precious to worry about anything else but your happiness!"

The human impulse to self preserve is strong enough to allow both of these options to work. However, only one of them will encourage a body to thrive. In the days following Watergate, America as a body chose the opposite of Richard Nixon (or the lame duck Gerald Ford) to represent them in the White House: an outsider, a self-made man who wasn't afraid to tell America that yes, times are tough, but if we work together we can gut it out and thrive... but we have to work for it.

Then, Ronald Reagan happened.

America, still hurt and broken from the Watergate revelation, collapsed in its weakness and fell for the spell of the Huckster. He was a man who claimed to never attain a grade above a "C" in school, a man who, almost bored, claimed "A tree is a tree. How many more do you have to look at?" This wasn't the shady and conniving intelligence of Nixon, that man who broke our spirit... this is a kind, gentle idiot who we're sure won't trick us and, most importantly, will sound good all the while. While James Carter promised a better future tomorrow, Reagan promised an immediate soothing balm to make all the bad feelings go away. An actor, he spoke with a silver tongue and golden throat the sort of panacea that soothed America like a drug. But, as President Reagan himself would caution against in his time in the White House... drugs can be dangerous. No drug, no matter how powerful, will last forever, and soon you find yourself in the cycle of addiction: needing another hit, begging your dealer to set you up, wagering everything and anything for that quick feeling of self-satisfaction. "Please!" America cried, "Make us forget all about Watergate! Make the pain go away, Mr. Reagan! Tell us there's nothing wrong with the American people, make us feel good again!"

Ronald Reagan set up The Great American Revival tent and took center stage as a two-bit charismatic preacher who stood outside the White House and promised salvation for only a nickel, then charged a dime. In the 1980 election, the most famous line was "There you go again," which is often remembered as Reagan's supposedly off-the-cuff, friendly nature to the sterile policy of Jimmy Carter. No one seems to remember, of course, that President Carter was talking about making sure families didn't get bankrupted by medical bills... something we're still struggling with decades later. Instead, we chose to put in our lot with President Catchphrase, Ronald Reagan, because he was a charming movie actor and made us feel good. His speeches were fraught with the sort of nonsense you might find in a self-help book, and he deluded enough people into thinking that if we just felt good enough about ourselves, all of the country's problems would seem to go away.

The corruption didn't stop: in fact, in 1978 the Supreme Court struck down a ban on corporate election contributions, putting us on the ruinous path to what became Citizen's United in 2010, but we were too busy feeling sorry for ourselves to let anyone tell us there was a problem. We knelt at the altar to Reagan and his new show, much like the old show, but refined and codified to not seem overtly racist or classist, to make it palatable to a wider audience. Reagan and his followers, like a young Newt Gingrich, instituted what became known as the Republican Revolution, an utter triumph of style over substances that saw emotion take center stage and saw the federal government completely shut down within one year of Republican House rule. Sound familiar? Suddenly, raw emotion and religious fervor, something that had been so beneficially removed from governance, had taken center stage in the hopes of playing on the primal fear and worry of an America rocked back on its heels by scandal, willing to believe anything the man in the seersucker suit sold them. Sound familiar? Ronald Reagan and others of his ilk took advantage of an America just coming off a very bad relationship, and played themselves up to be a kind and gentle suitor who wouldn't ask anything of poor Columbia in her broken state... and then robbed her blind. They seduced her away with promises and false hopes, away from the sour-faced, but well-meaning Jimmy Carter who knew the only way out of this "malaise" was hard work and education... but old Ronnie just kept cooing in her ear: I'll make it all better. Nothing is wrong. Everything is fine. I'll make you feel good about yourself again.

And he did, but America paid the price. We wagered away our children's future by cutting school budgets, even for children's food, we wagered away our own security by deregulating businesses, and we wagered away our own livelihoods when Reagan broke the unions. But he made us feel good about ourselves, didn't he? And later Presidents would rely on this same strategy, from Clinton's "I feel your pain" to Obama's "Hope and Change," we have been lead down a primrose path with blinders on our eyes as the world rotted around us, as America careened toward the crisis from 2007 that is still being felt today. Much like how Nixon played on the soothing fear of anti-black hysteria in the south to gain votes in 1968, men like Reagan, Bush, Gingrich and even Clinton and Obama have learned the new Soothing Strategy, the strategy that killed the old, competent Democratic party and replaced both sides of the debate with mindless pablum. Politics doesn't matter anymore, it's the issues and, more importantly, how we feel about them.

It's all about you, and how you feel, because America is exceptional, America is awesome... because we told you so. And when we tell you so, you feel good about it... and you stop asking questions. Questions like why the minimum wage hasn't gone up as a share of household income in twenty years, or why we can afford to spend more than the next thirteen countries combined on bombs and guns, but can't spend a penny more to keep people healthy in this country. Why do we constantly preach the values of the Christ, while at the same time hold sacred the tenets of Rand, when one preached giving to the poor and the other taught utter selfishness? Why do the rich now have as many times as much wealth as they did during the heyday of the Gilded Age? These questions don't get asked, because America has simply plugged its ears and repeated over and over that it's not OUR problem, there's nothing wrong with US... that nice Mr. Reagan told us so... so how come it's only getting worse?

Change will come, whether we want it to or not. The divide between rich and poor is only growing bigger, and although the unemployment lines may be shrinking, the lines for public assistance are not. We are working harder, for less money, at more different jobs, for less benefit. We have failed our children by risking it all in specious markets, only to see it tumble down and take gainful employment from our country's children, along with their own sense of purpose. We have been so focused on how we feel as a country, while simultaneously making sure not to feel for anyone else, that we have let the important issues, the "boring" issues, become the place of corrupt and morally bankrupt individuals. We turned out backs on the New Deal Coalition's ideas of hard issues, intellect, and determination for a drug addiction of feelings whose expiration date has finally been reached. There needs to come a Roosevelt Revolution in this country to counteract the Reagan Revolution, where common sense and common decency trump our own personal feelings, beliefs, or revulsions. We need to put aside the Southern Strategies, the Soothing Strategies, and we need to pack up that revival tent and pull the plug on that worn out old Hammond Organ, because their message is only starving those who come to the service. We must now do what President Carter told us to do so many years ago, and what men like McGovern and Humphrey and Mondale lost trying to make clear: times are tough, and we must grit our teeth and put our nose to the grindstone to make this country great again. We didn't pull ourselves out of the Great Depression by feeling better about ourselves, we worked for it. The CCC didn't say "We don't want to!" they said, "We can take it!" Ask not what your country can do for you, because it's time for you to bite down hard and do what you can for your country... because it's up to us now.

It's thirty years too late for us to realize that we have to gut this out. It won't be easy, it probably won't be fun. I won't lie to you: we'll have to work long and hard to beat back the shadows that have corrupted our government while our politicians pranced about singing of milk and honey, but we can do it. We did it when Teddy Roosevelt swung his big stick and regulated industry, we did it when Franklin Roosevelt did everything he could to put Americans back to work and built the bridges, roads and schools we still use today, and it worked when Lyndon Johnson twisted every arm in Washington in an effort to make sure no child grew up as heartwrenchingly destitute as he did in rural Texas. The time has come for courage and honesty in American politics, and a return to a Mondalian model of a candidate who will do what is right despite and perceived political danger. We can no longer afford damaging feel-good politics to further sap the strength of our country, a strength that lies primarily in a strong, and well-informed, middle class.

We are now facing a Republican menace that is even worse than Reagan's tent that destroyed the middle class. I've talked before about how, in a desperate attempt to keep angry voters, the Republican party has had to keep throwing gas on the fire. It appears now, with the advent of maniacal Tea Party legislators who wish to save the government village by destroying it, that the fire the Republicans have kept blazing hot has now jumped its boundaries, and is threatening to consume the Republican establishment itself. The rise of Trump and others like him: factless, charismatic yet borderline fascist demagogues, means that the roiling fire of Republican insanity threatens to burn the entire country down... but before it can do that, it has already begun licking at the corners of Ronald Reagan's singed and fraying Great American Revival Tent.

At Your Service,

Doremus Jessup