Saturday, December 31, 2011

Why Richard Nixon Is By Far, The Worst President In US History By Far

OK, the blueprint for this column has been collecting dust on a mental shelf for months.

Why Richard Nixon Is By Far, The Worst President In US History By Far:

1. Wage and Price Controls. On August 15, 1971 President Nixon imposed a wage and price freeze in a naive effort to control inflation. We often talk about the journalistic double standard but it does cut both ways. If a Democrat did something similar, cries of Marxist, Socialist and Communist would dominate public discourse. But Nixon did it and such names were never tossed about. At any rate, the results were disastrous.

Short of declaring martial law or suspending habeas corpus, the imposition of wage and price controls is probably the most far-reaching act of authoritarianism a president can inflict on his populace. It is purely and simply an abuse of power. But it is not just an academic exercise. Real people (and real animals) suffered from Nixon's arrogance.

Government mandated price controls always, always, always, always, always, always bring forth unintended consequenses. Always. Yes, some thumbs are dirtier than others but it is never good to stick one's thumb in the soup. One memorable result of Nixon's hubris was a large scale slaughter of livestock.

Farmers calculated that they could not afford to feed their animals. Not unless prices were allowed to rise (and they would not be allowed to rise)could they possibly recover the costs associated with feeding their critters. So the nightly news featured farmers and ranchers shooting calves and piglets (In some ways it was a less sensitive era.)

Wage and price controls were followed by widespread shortages. There were beef shortages, pork shortages, and food shortages of all sorts. There were even toilet paper shortages.

Commodity producers were screwed. A hog is a hog is a hog. But manufacturers were able to thumb their noses at the president by introducing new products. The price of a Quarter Pounder was frozen by executive order. So McDonalds slapped on a piece of cheese, called it appropriately enough, the Quarter Pounder With Cheese and charged 20 cents more for their new product.

Lots and lots of old products were discontinued and very similar but pricier products were introduced in their place. But farmers and ranchers and miners could not exercise such flexibility (genetic modification was just getting started.) They got hurt bad.

Nixon's economic policies were so bad that they also contributed to the downfall of Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter. We cannot let those last two off the hook but Governor Carter inherited a royal mess when he was inaugurated. Nixon is the gift that keeps on giving.

2. The End of The Gold Standard.

We are keenly aware that the cost of living is always increasing. In the 1960's auto mechanics and factory workers supported families of six or seven children with one paycheck. They kept their wife and children in houses and it was not unusual for blue collar workers with large families to buy expensive toys like boats and motorcycles and firearms. Now, yuppy couples work long hours to buy condos and they skimp and scrape to afford one or two children. What happened?

There were a lot of influences but one factor eclipses all others. The US Dollar is not worth what it used to be. We can thank Richard Nixon for that. He closed the "gold window" that allowed holders of dollars to convert their greenbacks to gold if they wanted to. The result is fiat money that ripples through every social institution we hold dear including the family.

The effects of fiat money on society are mostly negative. It erodes our very culture. More than anyone else, we have Richard Nixon to thank for our ruination.

Note: Almost everyone agrees the turning point for American prosperity was in the 1970's. Not everyone agrees that the decline is due more to the retreat from gold but most economists agree that this is when the American middle class started its slide. The habitually dishonest Robert Reich moves the date to 1980 so that he can blame Ronald Reagan for all that went wrong. But let's remove that compulsive liar from our radar for the time being.

3. Vietnam/Middle East.

Man, oh man. Nixon was so atrocious, Vietnam is the third worst disaster of his administration. That is saying something. You have to work hard to screw things up the way Nixon screwed things up.

A lot of Americans would have been content with an isolationist policy in Southeast Asia. A lot of Americans could get behind a war of annihilation waged against the Ho Chi Minh Regime and the North Vietnamese. We could have supported a policy of "Vietnamization" which said in effect,"we will supply South Vietnam the arms but they will supply the soldiers." But we could never support a muddled policy with unclear objectives that resorted in us abandoning our allies and subjecting millions of our friends to the killing fields. Sadly, that is what we did.

I used to think of Nixon as an amoral opinion poll president. He was gung ho military action while the polls supported military action. He was turn tail and run when the polls started to shift. That was how I saw him.

However, the poll-watching president was probably not accurate. Years later, Henry Kissinger would provide insight into President Nixon's mercurial nature. It was not the opinion polls that prompted Nixon to retreat. It was OPEC.

Nixon and Kissinger bungled Mideast diplomacy so badly that America faced the real possibility of being deprived of oil for years and even decades. That would mean that tens of thousands of military and civilian personnel could be stranded in Southeast Asia for who knows how long? They might have even faced starvation. Nixon had little choice but to evacuate.

Still, the evacuation did not have to be so abrupt as to abandon our former allies in South Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. Richard Nixon went to his grave with blood on his hands. In two theaters of diplomacy, Nixon blew it in a big, big way.

Note: One could argue that Nixon's economic disasters should not precede the ultimate killing of millions of our allies. Point taken. But Nixon did indeed inherit a couple of Asian messes. He had to play those hands whether he wanted to or not. As for his economic decisions, Tricky Dick did not have to apply his ham fisted surgery to a patient who was extremely healthy. Nixon's ego

4. Drug Enforcement Administration

Social conservatism is incompatible with fiscal conservatism. A social conservative is someone who is willing to fund futility and/or counterproductivity to affect a tone of moral superiority. Since the 1930's the US Government has fleeced the taxpayer to prosecute drug users and drug distributors. The gods of futility are smiling.

By just about every measure, the so called war on drugs is a failure. In 2011, heroin is more abundant than ever and cheaper than 1973 (in real dollars or unreal dollars.) Same with cocaine. Meth is also cheap and plentiful. But meth control is not mere futility, it rises to the level of counterproductivity. Meth labs would be as rare as they were in the Fonz's day had the DEA not tightened controls on pharmaceutical amphetamine. The DEA invented the meth epidemic.

The Drug Enforcement Administration was founded in 1973 as the Watergate scandal was starting to spill over. The timing could not be more appropriate. The DEA has been scandal-ridden from its inception and has failed at every aspect of its mission except to provide cushy jobs for privileged bureaucrats. They have been extremely successful in this department. In many ways, it is the most Nixonian creation this country has ever produced.

The Drug Enforcement Administration has fleeced the taxpayer for tens of billions of dollars over the years and has never slowed down the drug trade. But they do have a sympathetic press and bipartisan support. They will be cashing checks for a long time to come.

5. Environmental Protection Agency

OK. I probably would have founded the EPA myself. Ranchers and farmers and exterminators practiced their trade with casual recklessness way back when. The air and water was much dirtier when Nixon proposed the EPA. Fishermen were for it. Everyone was for it.

But EPA morphed into a monster. A monster with an extensive political agenda. If anyone in 1970 knew the EPA would try to regulate CO2, they would never have received the backing of a single congressman.

We can cut Nixon some slack on this one but the fact remains, he opened Pandora's Box.

6. 55 Mile Per Hour Speed Limit.

Giant groan. Once more, it was the president's diplomatic ineptitude that lead to this poorly thought out mandate. OPEC flexed its muscles and Nixon flinched. Speeding tickets rained down on our highways and insurance companies were able to adjust their rates upward to accommodate their enhanced risk of covering reprobates.

There was no evidence that the 55 mph limit saved gas but it cost the country a fortune. Time is money and time was wasted at 55 mph. The economic recovery of then 80's and later the 90's was in part fueled by the piecemeal repeal of the 55 mph limit.

7. Watergate/Corruption/Abuse of Power/Fallout

Maybe this should be in more than one category. At any rate, Nixon's Administration was a continuum of shady deals, enemies lists, dirty tricks, kickbacks and intimidation. From the suspicious pardon of Jimmy Hoffa to a convicted vice president, the Watergate break-in and the resulting cover-up, Nixon became synonymous with political corruption as well as abuse of power.

Some revisionists claim that Nixon's crimes were not really all that substantial. He was a victim of an overzealous press and a poorly handled public relations campaign. Nonetheless, Tricky Dick created an aura of mistrust and suspicion.

The fallout of perceived corruption included the destruction of the Republican brand. Nixon turned red states blue. Hard to believe that not that long ago places like Vermont and New York produced Republican Senators and New York was served by a Senator from the Conservative Party. Until Ronald Reagan arrived on the scene in 1980, the GOP suffered under the long shadow of a dirty president. Some of the sleaziest carpetbaggers ever produced by the Democratic Party got their foot in the door in the mid to late 1970's. Hello Patrick Leahy.

Note: This might be one area where Obama can give Nixon a run for his money.

8. Chemical and Biological Weapons Ban

Look. War is nasty. Get used to it. Richard Nixon destroyed our nation's chemical and biological weapons program starting in 1969 and concluding in 1972. Where were all the patriots and hard liners when this stellar program was being dismantled?

This should make all of us cynical about defense spending. The cost to inflict a casualty with a biological weapon is roughly 1/600th that of the cost to inflict a casualty with conventional weapons. With chemical weapons, casualties are only 1/2000th as expensive. Nice numbers for tax payers but ugly numbers for defense contractors.

More important that dollars, Nixon compromised our national security by terminating our biochemical weapons program. Let us hope we do not pay a price in human life for our president's fluffy decision.

There you have it. Nixon was the worst. We could pile on and throw in the gutting of NASA (he squashed an ambitious moon colony and a manned trip to Mars.) Some would say he was soft on Communism. He was as bad as every other president when it came to spending taxpayer's money. But Nixon is the worst without the addition of fine print and finer points.

We should reconsider the trumpeted flaws of President Ford and especially President Carter. Some people regard Carter as the worst president but I have some sympathy for the guy. Nixon's disastrous economic measures coupled with his antagonism of OPEC contributed to the downfall or the two succeeding administrations. He almost made Reagan's re-election an impossibility. It was a malaise that lasted a decade and a half.

So be heartened, President Obama. Unless you get elected to a second term (shiver) you will only be the second worst president in US History. Fortunately, we still have Richard Nixon to kick around some more.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Gary Johnson Jumps To The Libertarian Party

Giant moan of despair for two reasons. 1. Gary Johnson could have been one of the GOP's brightest stars in 2016 or 2020 or 2024. 2. Johnson would have made a great candidate for the Senate seat from New Mexico.

It bothers me less that Johnson has made a bad career move than that he will not be running for and serving in the Senate. As mentioned elsewhere on this site, the GOP has an outside chance capturing a super majority in 2012. If you gave me the choice between the White House and a Senate super majority I would take the latter. It could have happened. It could have happened.

Gary Johnson would have fit in well with the Class of 2010. The GOP ranks would have swelled but more importantly, the Tea Party Caucus would have gained steam. This guy would give Harry Reid nightmares.

Gary. Gary. Gary. Who the hell is advising you?

In Defense of Ron Paul

I am not voting for Ron Paul (my 2008 choice) but I still feel the need to rush to his defense when he is slandered. Ron Paul is not and has never been a racist. He has delivered black babies and has spoken frankly about racism being the true motive behind our nation's drug laws. He supports the rights of unborn black children to be born. The term racist just does not fit.

Ron Paul mused that the American Civil War should never have been fought. In no way did Paul suggest that the institution of slavery should be preserved in perpetuity. But he rightly points out that every other country that once institutionalized slavery emancipated their slaves without resorting to a Civil War that would result in more casualties than all other American wars combined one hundred and forty six years after the stillness at Appomattox. If Brazil (and every other New World country) could free their slaves without bloodshed, why couldn't we?

I heard some "New Republic" employee connect the Civil War dots to form a Klansman hood. Once more, the MSM resorts to serpentine logic to assassinate the character of a good human being. The MSM really are evil. They really are.

Ron Paul is an isolationist. In no way does that make him anti-Semitic. And if you listen to Ron Paul, his position on Israel is more thoughtful and than one would think from listening to the talking heads. The US gives more cumulative dollars to the enemies of Israel than they give to Israel. So if the US cut off all foreign aid, Israel would be a net beneficiary. Point taken.

I know of Jewish people who have met Ron Paul and who hold him in high regard. I know of one Jewish man who traveled a great distance to meet his hero long before he became a household name. I think most people who meet this chap would easily discern the religion of his ancestors. This guy reported that Ron Paul was friendly and gracious and cordial. Go figure.

I have read Lew Rockwell for over twenty years and I don't recall him ever printing anything racist. Walter Williams writes for his website and I bet Rockwell knows from whence Williams' ancestors hailed. Predicting a race war based on Washington's policies is not to advocate for a race war. To state that gay advocates influenced what was reported about AIDS is not an act homophobia, it is a statement of truth that can be verified. Rockwell was and is guilty of failure to practice political correctness. I won't contest those charges.

The media once more display their contempt for truth, at least when truth does not support political correctness (which happens to be fairly frequently.) There are plenty of reasons to not vote for Ron Paul without inventing fairy tales to make one's case. Ron Paul first and foremost is a good man.

Kumbaya Ron Paul, Kumbaya

The independent variable in American politics is Ron Paul. If he goes third party, Obama will be re-elected and America as we knew her and loved her, is dead and gone. Bye bye exceptionalism.

If this happens, Ron Paul supporters will be pummelled and scapegoated but the fingers should be pointed elsewhere. Ron Paul has brought in hundreds of thousands of fiscal conservatives to the Republican Party. It is a strained relationship, but this is politics. You embrace the newbies and co-opt their movement if you have to, but you never alienate them.

Ron Paul was instrumental in restoring fiscal conservatism to the Republican Party. His supporters also played a role in starting the Tea Party movement. Does any sane person believe 2010 would have happened without the Tea Party? Apparently, old line Republicans believe just that. They learned nothing from 2006, 2008, or even 2010.

If the third party run happens, I blame Romney, Gingrich, talk radio, Dick Morris, Karl Rove, Fox News and all of the usual suspects. This can be avoided though. When Gingrich or Bachmann or Santorum is asked about Ron Paul, they should reflexively reply: "Ron Paul is a great man and I think he would make an excellent Federal Reserve Chairman."

I don't think Ron Paul could walk away from a Fed Chairmanship. He could audit to his heart's content and he could torture sacred cows. Not everyone would be happy but mostly bad things would happen to bad people and good things would happen to good people. Hope and change would arrive at last.

Yes we can!