The legacy of Robert McNamara can’t be deduced at this early stage, and if anyone were to do it, a layman such as myself certainly wouldn’t be fit for the task. McNamara was at the levers of power during a time when the United States was embroiled in one of the most doomed enterprises of its history - the Vietnam war. In the documentary film The Fog of War, McNamara appears to lay alot of the blame at then President Lyndon Johnson’s feet, while other analysis lays the blame at the feet of technocrats like McNamara:
John Ralston Saul, in Volatire’s Bastards, makes McNamara a central character in his tale of how Western governments came to rely on a cult of credentialed, jargon-y experts to make decisions that were better left to politicians.
Like the anti-poverty policies laid out by Lyndon Johnson, Vietnam was an utter failure. It may not have been such an explosive phenomenon, leading to deaths on college campuses, Woodstock and future presidential candidate John Kerry throwing his purple hearts in public anger, if Johnson had understood what his successor Richard Nixon understood: that those kids out there protesting weren’t protesting American policy in Indochina, but were really just protesting their enlistment to fight on behalf of that policy. If a draft had been a factor during the Bush years, the bitter words hurled at Bush’s policies would have likely turned into bitter action.
Telegraph has an article up that serves as a wrap-up analysis of the Bush presidency on the eve of his departure. There was one paragraph that really stood out:
Peter Feaver, who served as special adviser for strategic planning on Bush’s White House National Security Council, agrees: “He’s had a once-in-a-century natural disaster, Hurricane Katrina, a once in a history of the Republic terrorist attack and he’s had a once-in-a-century financial crisis. Any one of those would be a pivotal moment. To have three is extraordinary.”
UPDATE: Via Chris Moody of Yahoo! News, the NCES has removed the Mao Zedong quote from its website. The “Quote of the Day” section now says, “Sorry there is no quote of the [day] today.”
UPDATE II: Via Andrew Kaczynski at BuzzFeed, the NCES has now updated the website once again with a quote from Abraham Lincoln.
UPDATE III: The NCES has removed the “Quote of the Day” section from its “Kid’s Zone” website. Click here to see the latest screen shot. Andrew Kaczynski has an official statement from the Department of Education.
The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), a part of the Department of Education, has a section on its website dedicated to kids. The site has various facts and resources that kids may find interesting. It also has a “Quote of the Day” section.
While this section may occasionally provide insightful and otherise worthwhile quotes, today’s quote is from a historical figure isn’t exactly a role model. Here’s the quote directly from the website:
“Our attitude towards ourselves should be ‘to be satiable in learning’ and towards others ‘to be tireless in teaching.’” — Mao Zedong
Libertarians’ aim is to maximize personal and inter-personal liberty. Nationally. Globally.
Freedom is the great coagulant- the way water molecules hold together drops of rain. Ironically, libertarianist philosophy is arguably the oldest of all American currents of thought: originating during the colonial Enlightenment Generation, when the old was still new enough to be considered current, but the United States was forming itself; becoming one in thought and deed.
Libertarianism existed in the minds of our colonial forefathers even before the ideas of a nation were enumerated, before they were disclaimed. Despite regional differences, colonists belonged to a place, a town maybe or an intersection. No matter what, each first and foremost belonged to himself.
The Jeffersonian Democratic-Republican ‘party’ was afflicted by and proposed along the lines of British, French, German and colonial thinking. What resulted was libertarianism. A sense of freedom given to the individual, by each own’s God. Without mediation, without government, without boundaries. Unique unto each.
Three centuries into the newly formed United States, citizens vote on the basis of who will win elections. Examples of voting extend to such extremes, that we are left with no alternative than to chose between an awful and a terrible party. While many in media and political networks might well believe that third parties are superfluous, and dangerous philosophically, it is the true patriot; who must see through the distortions and blatant lies- three centuries in the making.
Over at Reason, John Stossel chats with Thaddeus Russell, author of A Renegade History of the United States about our collective lack of knowledge about history and the benefits of living in a free society hurts us:
What liberates oppressed people? I was taught it’s often American power. Just the threat of our military buildup defeated the Soviet Union, and our troops in the Middle East will create islands of freedom.
Unlikely, says historian Thaddeus Russell, author of A Renegade History of the United States.
“As a matter of fact,” Russell told me, “in general American military intervention has increased anti-Americanism and hardened repressive regimes. On the other hand, American popular culture—what was often called the worst of our culture in many cases—has actually done more for liberation and our national security than anything that the 82nd Airborne could do.”
I told him that I thought that the Soviet Union collapsed because the Soviets spent so much trying to keep pace with Ronald Reagan’s military buildup
On the contrary, Russell said, “it collapsed from within. … People simply walked away from the ideology of communism. And that began especially when American popular culture—jazz and rock and roll—began infiltrating those countries after World War II.”
People want choices, and you can’t indoctrinate that out of them.
Which leads me to the most destructive myth about history: the idea that if we are to prosper, government must make smart plans for us. I was taught that in college, and despite the failure of the Soviet Union, many government leaders still believe it.
During a townhall last Friday, President Barack Obama told a whopper of a lie. Ever the believer in revisionist history, he claimed that Franklin D. Roosevelt was a “fiscal conservative.” Huh, come again?
Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. Henry Morgenthau, who served as FDR’s Treasury Secretary, famously said of their efforts to combat the Great Depression, “We have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work.” Spending money on that level is obviously not what a fiscal conservative would do.
In 2004, a study by two UCLA economists found that FDR’s statist economic intervention, through his New Deal policies, prolonged the Great Depression by seven years, which was noted in this Reason TV video about how Obama hoped to follow in FDR’s footsteps after the 2008 financial crisis by pushing Keynesian economics:
Over the weekend, I happened to catch a link on Twitter pointing a libertarian ranking of Presidents of the United States. It caught my eye because we don’t often see a thoughtful review of our nation’s presidents from our philosophical prespective.
As libertarians, we tend to believe that a good president is one that stays close to constitutional values and the liberties protected by the Bill of Rights. Unfortunately for liberty, the mainstream view, both in the press and by historians, is presidents that expand their office are general classified as the “greatest presidents.”
In this particular post written by Xavier Cromartie, the five best presidents are (in this order):
- Martin Van Buren
- Grover Cleveland
- John Tyler
- Calvin Coolidge
- Zachary Taylor
Cromartie provides his reasoning for naming these presidents from best to worst, including a list of the good they did or the marks against them.
I don’t necessarily endorse the list, but it’s as accurate as we’ll see from someone that shares our libertarian view. Although I can say that Grover Cleveland is my favorite, as Thomas DiLorenzo once called him, our libertarian president.
The significance of Barack Obama being the first black man to be elected to the presidency obscures another significant element of American history: the notion that immigrants must succumb to unabashed Americanization in order to be successful. Only one hundred years ago, many Irish immigrants were axing the “O’s” from the beginning of their last name in hopes that they would better assimilate without their Irish heritage. I had a teacher in high school whose ancestors had changed their names from “O’Brannan” to “Brannan” after arriving in America. In the twenty first century, Barack Obama was successfully able to obtain the highest political office in the land without having to abandon his father’s African namesake.