[Paleopsych] Gary North: My Fellow Americans

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Issue 415  January 21, 2005

           Once every four years, a President is inaugurated.  The
      President gives an inaugural address, which is covered by the TV
      networks.  If most daytime viewers had their preferences, the
      networks would not pre-empt the soap operas or Oprah.  The
      coverage is a revenue-loser for the networks.  The festivities are
      prime time TV news that evening.  The "New York Times"
      reproduces the inaugural address the next morning.  Almost
      nobody reads it.  The event fades rapidly from the memory of
      everyone who was not part of the event.

           This is a good thing.  Paying a lot of attention to
      political speeches, let alone political parades, is a
      mistake most of the time.  This is especially true of second
      inaugural addresses.  The only famous one is Lincoln's, and
      he was dead a month later.  His famous phrase, "with malice
      toward none, with charity toward all," was repudiated for
      the next decade by Congress during what came to be known as

           In the twentieth century, only two inaugural addresses
      stand out, Franklin Roosevelt's first address and Jack
      Kennedy's.  Kennedy's famous phrase is remembered more as
      the last hurrah of a now-lost vision than as a serious
      proposal: "Ask not what your country can do for you.  Ask
      what you can do for your country."  The can-do political
      liberalism of Kennedy's inaugural address in retrospect was
      overwhelmed by reality, first by his assassination and then
      by his successor's escalation of the war in Vietnam.

           What my generation remembers about that phrase was the
      military draft and the quagmire in Vietnam, the first war
      that the United States clearly lost, and did so on national
      television.  We do not remember the Peace Corps, except
      possibly Tom Hanks' version in "Volunteers."  If you want
      two images that serve as the grave markers of Kennedy's
      inaugural address, think of the rider less horse and the
      casket, and think of the photo of that last helicopter out
      of Saigon.  "Ask not" by 1993 had become, "Don't ask, don't

           We remember Johnson as totally confident when he came
      into office, but invisible four years later at the
      Democrats' national convention.  We think of Nixon as
      confident when coming in both times, but ludicrous with his
      V sign as he flew away in a helicopter, disgraced.  Politics
      had consumed its two most dedicated American worshipers:
      Johnson and Nixon.  Ford is barely remembered: the only
      President who received no electoral votes.  His most
      memorable phrase: "I'm a Ford, not a Lincoln."  Too bad he
      didn't say it at his inaugural.  That may be because he
      didn't give an inaugural address -- a tradition I favor.
      Carter's walk down Pennsylvania Avenue is remembered, but
      mostly as a stunt.  What he said at the inaugural isn't
      remembered at all.  None of the inaugural addresses since
      Kennedy's are part of the American heritage of rhetoric.

           Roosevelt's is remembered, mainly because of its
      phrase, "we have nothing to fear but fear itself."  In the
      context of 25% unemployment, the closing of thousands of
      rural banks, and the seeming imperviousness of the
      depression to government action, that was a ludicrous
      statement.  In fact, later in the speech, Roosevelt said as
      much, but that is not what we recall of his rhetoric.

           What was most significant about that inaugural address
      was that Roosevelt announced what he intended to do.  He
      then spent the next 12 years doing the opposite.  In the
      name of the People, he solidified control by the elite he
      represented yet pretended to despise.  By the time of his
      death in 1945, he could well have said, "Mission
      accomplished!"  Nothing that has happened in Washington in
      the last 60 years has significantly challenged his
      revolution, which in fact was a consolidation.


           Roosevelt's 1933 address announced in plain language a
      Constitutional revolution.  That revolution had been
      launched by Lincoln in the Civil War, had escalated under
      Teddy Roosevelt, and had been solidified by Wilson during
      World War I.  It involved the centralization of power by the
      Federal government, power that was exercised primarily by
      the President and the executive bureaucracy.  Roosevelt in
      1933 faced a national crisis, and he called on the voters to
      accept whatever he might do.  With only one major exception,
      they did.  The exception was his plan to pack the Supreme
      Court in 1937.  But the Court buckled, and ratified his acts
      after 1937.

           Late in the speech, Roosevelt praised the
      Constitution.  He did so as a send-up of his threat to
      ignore it.

                I am prepared under my constitutional duty to
           recommend the measures that a stricken nation in
           the midst of a stricken world may require. These
           measures, or such other measures as the Congress
           may build out of its experience and wisdom, I
           shall seek, within my constitutional authority,
           to bring to speedy adoption.

                But in the event that the Congress shall fail to
           take one of these two courses, in the event that
           the national emergency is still critical, I shall
           not evade the clear course of duty that will then
           confront me. I shall ask the Congress for the one
           remaining instrument to meet the crisis -- broad
           Executive power to wage a war against the
           emergency, as great as the power that would be
           given to me if we were in fact invaded by a
           foreign foe.

           Roosevelt offered an explanation for the depression.
      He demonized the bankers.  This, of course, had been part of
      the Democrats' political tradition ever since William
      Jennings Bryan hijacked the Party with his Cross of Gold
      speech in 1896.  Roosevelt announced:

                And yet our distress comes from no failure of
           substance. We are stricken by no plague of
           locusts. Compared with the perils which our
           forefathers conquered, because they believed and
           were not afraid, we have still much to be
           thankful for. Nature still offers her bounty and
           human efforts have multiplied it. Plenty is at
           our doorstep, but a generous use of it languishes
           in the very sight of the supply.

           Here was the time-honored analysis of Marxists and
      socialists: nature as bountiful but perversely restrained by
      the institutions of capitalism.  It was time to identify
      these unscrupulous manipulators.

                Primarily, this is because the rulers of the
           exchange of mankind's goods have failed, through
           their own stubbornness and their own
           incompetence, have admitted their failure, and
           have abdicated. Practices of the unscrupulous
           money changers stand indicted in the court of
           public opinion, rejected by the hearts and minds
           of men.

           Money changers.  Where had Americans heard that term
      before?  In church.  Jesus chased the money changers out of
      the temple.  Roosevelt made it clear that he was prepared to
      do the same.

                True, they have tried. But their efforts have
           been cast in the pattern of an outworn tradition.
           Faced by failure of credit, they have proposed
           only the lending of more money.

           Quite true.  The Federal Reserve System, created
      under Wilson in 1913, had the power to control the money
      supply through the control of credit, mainly through the
      purchase of U.S. government debt.  But the public was not
      borrowing in 1933.  Commercial banks were failing.  Within
      days of the inaugural, Roosevelt unilaterally shut the
      banks, fearing more bank runs. (The bank "holiday" idea had
      been Herbert Hoover's, as Hoover insisted in his
      autobiography, but Roosevelt had refused to support Hoover's

           The Federal Reserve System had been heralded by its
      proponents as the engine of financial stability, the
      guarantor of continuity of credit.  Yet the nation in 1933
      was facing the worst depression in its history.  The FED's
      monopoly over the money supply granted by the Federal
      government in 1913 in the name of financial stability had
      failed to work.  But Roosevelt did not target the FED in his
      speech.  He targeted commercial bankers, who were in no
      position to offset the public's unwillingness to borrow
      money in the fact of a 33% fall in prices, 1929-33.  Few
      businessmen wanted to borrow dollars when they might have to
      pay off the loan with appreciating dollars.

           Voters then, like voters today, did not understand
      central banking.  They understood rhetoric about profit-
      seeking money changers.

                Stripped of the lure of profit by which to induce
           our people to follow their false leadership, they
           have resorted to exhortations, pleading tearfully
           for restored confidence. They only know the rules
           of a generation of self-seekers. They have no
           vision, and when there is no vision the people

                Yes, the money changers have fled from their high
           seats in the temple of our civilization. We may
           now restore that temple to the ancient truths.
           The measure of that restoration lies in the
           extent to which we apply social values more noble
           than mere monetary profit.



           The great irony of this speech was lost on the
      listeners, and has been lost on, or buried by, the history
      textbook writers and even the historical monograph writers.
      Franklin Roosevelt had been one of these money changers.  He
      had been the well-paid agent of the bond industry prior to
      his election as Governor of New York in 1928.  Beginning in
      1921, after he had lost his position as Undersecretary of
      the Navy under Wilson, and after he had gone down to defeat
      with Cox as the Party's Vice-Presidential candidate in 1920,
      Roosevelt became Vice-President of Fidelity Deposit Company
      of Maryland.

           He had gone to Grotton, the elite prep school.  He had
      gone to Harvard.  He was the heir of the Delano fortune,
      which had been made in part by selling opium in China.  He
      was a rich only son of a wealthy New York family.

           His inaugural address looked as if though was the
      product of a rich man who had seen the moral light.  On the
      contrary, it was designed to divert the public's attention
      from a new deal for big business, which would strengthen the
      hand of the biggest corporations, whose managers desperately
      wanted price floors and protection against new competition.

           This story was told in detail by Antony Sutton three
      decades ago: "Wall Street and FDR" (Arlington House, 1975).
      The historical profession paid no attention to this book,
      which was published by a conservative publishing house.  As
      Sutton wrote at the time, the vast majority of historians of
      Roosevelt's administration have been FDR apologists.  The
      ones who know the story of his Wall Street connections
      deliberately have concealed this information, knowing full
      well that the public had been misled about Roosevelt's
      background as a "money changer."  His Wall Street
      connections before his election as Governor make his
      inaugural address appear as a rhetorical deception without
      precedent in American history, which in fact it was.

           Roosevelt had run the American Construction Council in
      the mid-1920s.  It was basically an industry trade council
      dedicated to price-fixing arrangements.  The A.C.C. had
      originally been proposed by Secretary of Commerce Herbert
      Hoover.  Hoover and FDR were well acquainted with each
      other.  This, too, the public has never suspected.  Both men
      shared the same economic outlook: the Federal government as
      the source of economic order and protection.  Both men were
      backed by the same Wall Street interests.

           This was nothing new in 1932.  Except for Bryan, who
      was a Populist and defender of direct government ownership
      of business, Wall Street had controlled the nomination of
      every major party Presidential candidate since the end of
      the Civil War.  It still does.

           Roosevelt had received donations for his 1928 campaign
      from Wall Street financiers, most notably Joe Kennedy.  And,
      as Sutton shows, Roosevelt repaid them by creating a series
      of New Deal agencies whose primary function was to save the
      large corporations by allowing price-fixing under government
      authorization.  The Supreme Court kept declaring these
      agencies unconstitutional, which is why Roosevelt proposed
      the Court-packing scheme in 1937 as a way to get a pro-New
      Deal majority on the Court.

           I knew Sutton personally.  His scholarship was
      impeccable.  His three volumes on the technology of the
      Soviet Union, 1917-1965, showed that the USSR had developed
      very little technology of its own, outside of armaments.
      Its technology was either stolen from the West or bought
      from the West.  The myth of Soviet economic productivity was
      admitted by scholars only after 1989, when the USSR's
      leaders admitted that it was facing bankruptcy.  Sutton's
      first book on Soviet Technology received almost no attention
      from the academic guild, even in journals that specialized
      in economic history.  There was a systematic blackout on
      volumes 2 and 3, despite the fact that the set had been
      published by the Hoover Institution.  (I pointed this out in
      my Foreword to his book, "The Best Enemy Money Can Buy,"

           His book on "Wall Street and the Bolshevik Revolution"
      received no academic attention, nor did "Wall Street and
      Hitler."  He was the first historian to publish a detailed
      history of Skull & Bones, the Yale University secret society
      that has produced three presidents (Taft and the two
      Bushes).  That book, too, went down the academic memory

           For some of you, this is the first time you have heard
      of any of this.  This indicates how successful the blackout
      has been.  Before the Internet, it was easy for the academic
      guild to bottle up studies like Sutton's.  It no longer is.


           The long-term connections between American big
      business and the official enemy nations of the United States
      are not discussed publicly.  Occasionally, this neglect gets
      to me.

           In 1984, I attended a closed dinner meeting of the
      leaders of the American Right, where the organization gave
      an award to John Lehman, Ph.D., the Secretary of the Navy.
      The man who handed him this award was his former roommate,
      although we attendees did not know this.  Lehman had been
      one of Henry Kissinger's aides before he became Secretary of
      the Navy.  He is still in the news: a member of the 9/11
      Commission.  He is an investment banker, as his Web site
      reveals. (http://snipurl.com/c5or) Anyway, at that awards
      meeting, he gave a brief speech on the build-up of the
      Soviet navy.  Knowing what I knew, I started to walk out.
      There are limits to my tolerance.  But it was a large room.
      I didn't make it to the door before I heard him criticize
      Congressional opponents of a larger U.S. Navy.  This got to
      me: the Russians this, the Russians that.  I turned around
      and yelled, "If they are our enemies, why do we feed them?"
      There was silence.  So, just in case anyone missed my point,
      I said again, "Why do we feed them?"

           Of course, I could have mentioned the US-USSR Trade
      and Economic Council (USTEC), the highly secretive
      association of the largest American corporations that were
      trading with the Soviet Union, and which, despite partial
      government funding, refused to provide a list of its
      members.  The government also refused to reveal this
      information, despite Freedom of Information Act requests.  I
      had extensive files on this organization.  But no one in the
      audience, other than Lehman, would have known what I was
      talking about.

           I could also have mentioned the fact that the U.S.
      government in 1972 had authorized the export to the USSR of
      the unique, patented ball bearing machine tools that alone
      made possible MIRVed nuclear warheads, a fact that Tony
      Sutton had revealed in his 1973 book, "National Suicide:
      Military Aid to the Soviet Union" (Arlington House).  That
      fact remains unknown in American conservative circles, over
      three decades later.  So, I skipped that, too.  But the fact
      that our farmers had been feeding the Russians ever since
      Herbert Hoover's days under Harding was well known.  So, I
      asked the obvious question.  Why do we feed our enemies?
      Lehman mumbled.  I left.

           Sutton had the right answer.  They were the best
      enemies our money could buy.


           So, all in all, I don't get too excited about
      Presidential inaugural addresses.  I figure they're
      important for the President and his immediate family,
      mandatory for senior staffers on the White House's payroll,
      and good copy opportunities for editorial writers.

           Like the State of the Union Address, no problem is
      ever mentioned which does not have a multi-billion dollar
      government solution at hand.  This means ignoring two kinds
      of problems: problems that really don't require government
      spending to solve them and problems that cannot be solved
      despite government spending.

           The test of the relevance of an inaugural address is
      whether the problems addressed in it are solved four years
      later, and the programs created to solve them are no longer
      being funded.  "Mission accomplished!"

           That'll be the day.

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