Monday, February 23, 2009

Reader Submission: How to Respond to GOP Attacks on FDR

As everyone has noticed, the GOP is mounting an ongoing offensive against FDR. Amity Schlaes in the Wall Street Journal and a host of others hell-bent on revising history are using false data about GDP and employment growth in order to claim that FDR not only failed to ameliorate the effects of the Great Depression but in fact either caused it or made it worse.

Their purpose is two-fold. First and foremost, they want to undermine support for President Obama's various initiatives to repair the damage done to our economy under Republican rule in the hope that they can keep the economy weak enough to hasten the GOP's return to power in 2010. And, second, they want to undermine FDR's legacy of having created a strong social safety net in the hope that they can head off any effort by Democrats to strengthen that safety net by new programs like national health insurance.

Because these GOPer's seem to have a lot of time on their hands since their trouncing last fall, because an idle mind is the devil's workshop, and because this very idleness may therefore be one of the causes of these attacks, it seems to me that an additional way to defend FDR and the truth about his record (apart from the excellent defenses already being mounted by DeLong and Krugman) is to create some new work for the GOP. What I am suggesting, of course, is that we open a new front in this rhetorical war they have started by forcing the Republicans to begin expending serious energy on defending a hero of their own.

You guessed it—I am talking about an effort on the part of the progressive blogosphere to remind Americans of the manifold deficiencies of Ronald Reagan. As I envision it, our effort would take the form of an essay contest sponsored by one of the progressive blogs, with the essayists being tasked with writing short, factual, and footnoted essays (with links to primary source material counting for bonus points) debunking the myth of Ronald Reagan as some sort of above-average president. The winning essays could then be used as the basis for special instructional units on the Reagan presidency to be used by our nation's high school teachers.

If one of the national blogs decides to sponsor this contest, I wish to stake my claim to the subject of Reagan's sorry record in combating terrorism. I will start by discussing Osama bin Laden, who cited Reagan's failure to have responded to the terrorist bombing of the 241 American servicemen in Lebanon in 1983 as having led him to believe that America had grown soft. I will then discuss Reagan's having traded TOW missiles for American hostages in the mid-80's, which led, of course, to the taking of additional hostages by the terrorists with whom he was trading. And I will finish with a discussion of Libya’s having bombed Pan Am 103 out of the sky over Scotland during the final month of Reagan's presidency (it happened on December 21, 1988 and was a grisly sort of going-away present to Reagan).

Please let me know when the contest begins.


Tuesday, February 03, 2009

MCDAC Paper Goes Digital

The Medina County Democratic Action Committee has decided to put its newspaper, Common Sense, online. The website can be seen at Our plan is to recruit citizen journalists who can cover local government in Medina County as well as other Medina County events. We are also looking for writers who want to submit opinion columns to us. Let us know what you think. Please send comments to

Way to go, Joe!

Republican Brunswick City Ward 3 Councilman Joe Delsanter has proposed that two of the three Brunswick City Council-at-Large be eliminated. His rationale is that this would save about $22,000 to $24.000 per year. This, of course, is a mere drop in the bucket for a city that has been operating with a deficit since 2001.

This proposal would involve amending the charter of the city of Brunswick. If this proposal were to come to fruition, it would necessitate a charter amendment on the ballot. The deadline set by the Secretary of State for the upcoming May 5th election is February 19th. This would give council sixteen days to complete this action in order to effectuate change this year.

Currently, the city of Brunswick has four ward councilmen and three at-large councilmen. The At-Large Council members represent the entire city, not just a ward. They provide a sort of checks and balance system within the council.

Some cities of similar size, i.e. Westerville, Oh, have a city council comprised of seven at-large members. A council of all at-large members ( perhaps five?) would be a more logical alternative than to eliminate two of the three at-large positions and keep the ward council members. The people of Brunswick would continue to be fully represented. Presently, if your ward councilman is not responsive, you still have the at-large council members. Of course, this would also necessitate a charter amendment.

Is Republican Mr. Delsanter’s stance a knee-jerk reaction to the city’s budget problems? Why hasn’t council done more cost cutting in the past? Is this a myopic glance at the overall budget deficit picture?

Or is his proposal an attempt to eliminate some people who just aren’t “on the same page” as Republican Mr. Delsanter? His proposed change would make life a lot easier for a city council that seems to be constantly embroiled in battles. Is he afraid of the outcome of the 2009 election? It appears that there is more to this proposal than he wants us to believe.

Monday, February 02, 2009

"Dems Suck"-Insightful Political Comment from a Republican

This morning a person who is apparently a Republican from the Columbus area left a comment on our post about the Ohio House Republicans wanting to cut taxes on rich people. His insightful comment was "Dems suck." Now, you have to realize that this passes for learned political commentary among Republicans. They believe that calling names is the same as actually making arguments. They believe that insulting your political opponents is the same as actually advancing policies that help America.

This attitude is why they have, since 2006, lost control of the Ohio Governor's office, a U.S. Senator from Ohio, the Ohio House of Representatives, and four congressional seats. Not to mention, of course, the Ohio Attorney General's office, the Ohio Treasurer's office, and the Ohio Secretary of State's office.

So, to our GOP commentator, keep bringing that good old Republican attitude to Ohio. It works for us.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Why Did Greenspan Allow Stock and Real Estate Bubbles?

A money manager, Bill Fleckenstein, co-authored a book titled Greenspan's Bubbles: The Age of Ignorance at the Federal Reserve. (You can read a review here.) In the book, he makes a pretty convincing that Alan Greenspan contributed to the stock bubble of the 1990s and the real estate bubble of this decade by not taking appropriate actions. Actions like raising the interest rate in the 1990s; raising the amount that a stock purchaser had to deposit with a stock broker when buying on margin; and by allowing the creation of novel mortgage instruments.

They point out that the United States had gone from the stock market crash of 1929 to 1979 without a speculative bubble. Then, from 1980 to the present time, there have been three bubbles. One in real estate in the late 1980s that caused the collapse of the savings and loan industry, and the two mentioned above. All of which happened on Greenspan's watch.

The authors argue that a lot of the problems were caused by Greenspan's arrogance in thinking that he knew more than most people, by his belief that he was "the smartest guy in the room." There could be other reasons, however. Could it be that Greenspan was pursuing policies that he thought would benefit the presidents who appointed him?

While George H.W. Bush lost his re-election in 1992, both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush won re-election. In both administrations, however, toward the end of their second terms, financial clouds loomed on the horizon, although obviously much worse in Bush's case than in Clinton's.

In any event, no matter what his motivations, Fleckenstein and his co-author make a compelling case that far from being a good thing, Greenspan's time at the Federal Reserve had very bad consequences for most Americans.