By Ronald Glenn
Notes From the Conservative Underground is an ongoing section here at America’s Right, featuring the written manifestation of Ron Glenn’s observations on the conservative movement, gleaned from sources found everywhere between short-wave radio to mainstream commentary, between random discourse with concerned everyday Americans to planned discussions with people and officials plugged into grassroots organizations nationwide.
You Are My Sunshine
I have not reported on the current opinions concerning the economy for a while, since I have nothing to add to the relatively stagnant economic news found on the Internet. However, it is worthwhile to look at how public opinion is taking shape, and what effect this may have on the future. To do this, I will use two conversations with two fellow commuters to illustrate what I believe is the yin and yang of America’s current economic outlook.
One man I spoke with over the course of several rail commutes I will call “Mr. Sunshine.”
His favorite expression is, “It’s all good.” He thinks that the people in America who are unemployed and have lost their homes must accept that their failures are their own, not America’s. He is not unemployed, and not currently in danger of losing his home. He thinks the American system works exactly the way it should. Bad boys and girls punished, good boys and girls rewarded.
This attitude allows Mr. Sunshine to pardon any and all behavior by his government. Since he blames those at the bottom for their failures, he has no reason to blame the Federal Reserve, Larry Summers, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, or the former administration of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. Most importantly, President Obama is as innocent as a newborn. He only wants what is good for America, he thinks. Why would he work so hard to do us harm?
Mr. Sunshine sees no corruption at the top. He does not care about the federal deficit. He sees only weakness and whining from those who have lost. Mr. Sunshine is moving forward along with millions of others like him, marching arm in arm to a greater future.
Another commuter I spoke with only days later related an entirely different attitude. For more than 25 years now, he has worked for an international corporation, an organization that always seemed to have “a strong sense of give and take.” If you gave your best to them, they were good to you. And so on. A couple months ago, though, his company hired a “hatchet man” as its new CEO, whose job it was to tear the company apart.
“He’ll start with mass layoffs,” the man explained. “Then he will go after the pensions, and then he’ll go after the medical plans. When it is all over, he‘ll have all the money and employees like myself won‘t have any to speak of.”
To top it off, his wife has a serious medical condition that will not permit her to work. If he loses his job, he does not know how he could possibly take care of her. Government doesn’t care, and doesn’t have his best interests at heart. Corruption is rampant. He is certain, furthermore, that none of those at the top of the government will be prosecuted for wrongdoing, even though they should be.
His final comment to me the other morning was: “All my personal experience contradicts everything this administration is telling us about the recovering economy. People can only listen to nonsense before it begins to make them really angry.”
In a macro-economic context, these two stories represent the attitudes American businesspeople have about the business cycles, currently referred to as “bubbles.” Decades ago, business cycles were considered a normal part of American business. In simplest form, business cycles go like this: A business is successful and begins to expand. Its workers want to share in the success, so wages go up. Prices are also increased. Eventually, the business is over-expanded, has too much debt, and must contract. There is a short recession, the dead wood in the business world is cut out, and the cycle begins again. (This normally takes five to ten years.)
Mr. Sunshine thinks this is American capitalism as it should be. Recessions, which occur at the end of the cycles, get rid of all the failing companies. He thinks business cycles cleanse the free market of weak companies that should be gotten rid of.
The other man, whom I will call “Mr. Bleak,” does not believe the cycle we’re seeing in 2009 is natural. The real estate crash was an artificial bubble created by the likes of Goldman Sachs, who controlled it in such a way that there were immense profits made. The current economy is highly unnatural, running its unnatural course under the control of the American government in collusion with the Federal Reserve. All we are doing is preparing for another bubble created by government spending.
These two points of view may account in part for the polls showing the public is 50/50 when it comes to its opinion of President Obama’s handling of the economy. The ultimate decision about Obama may turn on whether the solutions to the economic problems are “natural” or “unnatural.” When Obama says he didn’t really want to take over General Motors, do you believe him? When he says his medical plan is necessary for the economic well-being of America, do you believe him? Are these remedies part of the natural business cycle?
Mr. Sunshine says “it is all good.” What do you think?
Mr. Bleak has not been on the train for over a week. I pray he is on vacation, and that I will see him soon.
Torture You, Torture Me
The question of torture will not go away, especially since the Obama administration is still talking about investigating the intelligence agencies. Stepping back and looking at the big picture, I would like to provide a slightly different angle to this than I have seen discussed in most commentaries addressing the issue.
Most arguments center around the question as to whether torture should be used as a tool to fight international terrorism. That approach misses the issue from a historical perspective. In the twentieth century, the regimes that used torture regularly were not interested in obtaining justice; they were actually interested in obtaining FALSE confessions. For instance, when the Nazis invaded the Soviet Union in 1941, Stalin’s secret police went crazy and began rounding up army officers and beating them in an attempt to make these men admit they were at fault for the invasion. As the head of Communist Russia, Stalin could not admit he was at fault. Therefore, he removed any blame by arresting and torturing people to death.
All too often, confessions provide bad evidence. Beria, one of the heads of the Soviet secret police under Stalin, supposedly said, “Give me a man for an evening and I will make him confess he is the King of England.” Why would he want to make someone confess to such a thing? Answer: Because he does not care about truth. He cares about making people say what he wants them to say.
America’s founding fathers understood there was a European legacy that had given torture a bad name in the name of justice. Think of the thousands of women who had confessed to witchcraft under the most heinous inducements of pain men could concoct. Beware of anyone who says torture has always been strictly about obtaining the truth.
There has been the usual blather from geriatric 1960’s egomaniacs about the 40th anniversary of the Woodstock music festival during which, of course, hundreds of thousands of naked people danced for days to some of the most popular bands of the day, slept in mud, had casual sex, and took drugs. This all happened less than a month after Americans set foot on the moon, but in the 40th anniversary of both events, we see where four decades of revisionist history has gotten us. Priorities matter, I guess.
I was not old enough to attend Woodstock, but I do remember the endless talk about it, and everybody seemed to leave out venereal disease, LSD brain restructuring, and New Age Communism. Instead, the press continuously seemed to discuss the spontaneous atmosphere of Woodstock. It was a “happening” that showed there were forces at work in society that could not be held back.
Strangely, in retrospect, it sounded a lot like the peasant revolts in Europe in the Middle Ages. Then, repressed ignorant masses grabbed pitchforks to storm castles; in August 1969, repressed educated masses in America grabbed bags of opiates and fornicated.
I think it is fascinating, however, that the spontaneous public gathering is on its way to extinction. The drug heads of Woodstock have awakened to find out there is political danger if people get together and have disagreements. It is possible someone might do something as disagreeable as raise his voice or mention the Constitution. The average public “meeting” now is considered an orchestrated spectacle created by public relations experts.
We’ve seen this sort of attitude during recent town hall meetings, but in my opinion the best example of this is the modern political convention held every four years to choose each party’s candidates for president of the United States. Love is everywhere. No greater sins could be committed than to fight against the mob on national television. My father told me the 1952 Republican Convention was so hostile a man booed through the benediction.
Unfortunately, people who show spontaneous feelings in 2009 are ridiculed as ravings morons, or even racist Nazi sympathizers. It is obvious that the leftist Woodstock attendees who moved on to run America quit taking LSD. Instead, they put on suits and handed out valium to the masses. Don’t get angry. It is a socialist love-fest. The government intends to pay for all your opiates for as long as they choose.
Peace, baby. Peace.
Ronald Glenn has worked in real estate and law for more than twenty years. He now works in Philadelphia, and lives outside the city with his wife. Ron has been writing for America’s Right since January 2009.