Category Archives: History

Why Secession Is a Big Problem — For Politicians, by Chris Calton

Big government, and big taxes, big regulation, and big programs are a lot more difficult in smaller political subdivisions. From Chris Calton at mises.org:

When the southern states were debating secession in 1861, there was one other proposed secession that almost always gets overlooked in history: New York City. The Mayor of New York at the time, Fernando Wood, saw disunion as an inevitability at the start of 1861, and in a January 6th address to the city council, he advocated New York City’s secession.

“When Disunion has become a fixed and certain fact,” Wood asked the council, “why may not New York disrupt the bands which bind her to a venal and corrupt master — to a people and a party that have plundered her revenues, attempted to ruin her, take away the power of self-government, and destroyed the Confederacy of which she was the proud Empire City?”

Although Wood did cite slavery as among the reasons for the city’s need to secede (he believed New Yorker’s benefited from trading with the slave economy, and the city was home to a respectable number of slave traders who continued to operate their not-entirely-clandestine businesses for places such as Brazil and Cuba), he did not propose joining the Confederacy, which had yet to be formed. He wanted to establish New York City as sovereign entity — the Free City of Tri-insula, referring to the islands of Manhattan, Long, and Staten.

The Common Council agreed with Wood, and the city looked poised to secede. They only changed their position after the bombardment of Fort Sumter, not because they objected to the Confederacy’s actions as much as their desire not to be surrounded by territories that would view them as traitors during the oncoming war.

But New York’s near-secession is an example of what many people in the North — particularly Republicans — feared from secession; they were not worried about severing their nation, but rather that it might dissolve altogether — or at the very least, break into multiple smaller countries. The relatively new Republican Party had grand plans for the country, rife with economic interventions such as infrastructure projects, a transcontinental railroad, a protective tariff, and a homestead act.

The only thing that had prevented such reforms taking place in the past was sectional disagreement on various policies. Southerners, for instance, supported a transcontinental railroad, but they wanted it to be built in the South, and no compromise was ever successfully made. Southerners also supported homestead legislation that would have sold public lands, rather than granting 160 acres for only a standard clerical fee. Infrastructure and economic protectionism were more widely rejected by southerners, and Southern Democrats continually blocked the passage of such bills.

To continue reading: Why Secession Is a Big Problem — For Politicians

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Scarier Than John Bolton? Think of Nikki Haley for President! by Philip Giraldi

Nikki Haley is a neocon’s neocon. From Philip Giraldi at unz.com:

The musical chairs playing out among the senior officials that make up the President Donald Trump White House team would be amusing to watch but for the genuine damage that it is doing to the United States. The lack of any coherence in policy means that the State Department now has diplomats that do not believe in diplomacy and environment agency heads that do not believe in protecting the environment. It also means that well-funded and disciplined lobbies and pressure groups are having a field day, befuddling ignorant administrators with their “fact sheets” and successfully promoting policies that benefit no one but themselves.

In the Trumpean world of all-the-time-stupid, there is, however, one individual who stands out for her complete inability to perceive anything beyond threats of unrelenting violence combined with adherence to policies that have already proven to be catastrophic. That person is our own Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, who surfaced in the news lately after she unilaterally and evidently prematurely announced sanctions on Russia. When the White House suggested that she might have been “confused” she responded that “With all due respect, I don’t get confused.” This ignited a firestorm among the Trump haters, lauding Haley as a strong and self-confident woman for standing up to the White House male bullies while also suggesting that the hapless Administration had not bothered to inform one of its senior diplomats of a policy change. It also produced a flurry of Haley for higher office tweets based on what was described as her “brilliant riposte” to the president.

One over-the-top bit of effusion from a former Haley aide even suggested that her “deft rebuttal” emphasizes her qualities, enthusing that “What distinguishes her from the star-struck sycophants in the White House is that she understands the intersection of strong leadership and public service, where great things happen” and placing her on what is being promoted as the short list of future presidential candidates.

For sure, neocon barking dog Bill Kristol has for years been promoting Haley for president, a sign that something is up as he was previously the one who “discovered” Sarah Palin. Indeed, the similarities between the two women are readily observable. Neither is very cerebral or much given to make any attempt to understand an adversary’s point of view; both are reflexively aggressive and dismissive when dealing with foreigners and domestic critics; both are passionately anti-Russian and pro-Israeli. And Kristol is not alone in his advocacy. Haley regularly receives praise from Senators like South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham and from the Murdoch media as well as in the opinion pages of National Review and The Weekly Standard.

To continue reading: Scarier Than John Bolton? Think of Nikki Haley for President!

The Return Of The Bond Vigilantes, by Doug Kass

The bond vigilantes can’t prevent governments from borrowing, but they can make it more painful for them. From Doug Kass at Seabreeze Partners via zerohedge.com:

  • With mounting private and public debt, the U.S. economy is poorly positioned to reach consensus economic growth expectations
  • The Bond Vigilantes are saddled up and ready to make a comeback – and it’s market unfriendly

“I used to think that if there was reincarnation, I wanted to come back as the president or the pope or as a .400 baseball hitter. But now I would like to come back as the bond market. You can intimidate everybody.” 
– James Carville

In “The Great Bond Massacre” from late 1993 to late 1994, the yield on the US ten year note rose from 5.2% to 8.0% as investors grew fearful about the implications of large federal spending increases.

For the first time in years the bond vigilantes, “a self-appointed group of citizens – the bond vigilantes – who undertake law enforcement in their community without legal authority, typically because the legal agencies are thought to be inadequate” have surfaced – with the ten year U.S. note yield now approaching three percent.

This morning the yield on the ten year U.S. note has hit a new four year high of 2.99%.

As I see, though rates still appear low by historic standards – the sizable climb in debt loads (in both the private and public sectors) and the continued fiscal profligacy – will likely exacerbate the impact on the recent rise in yields by providing a governor to economic growth and by stirring a number of other adverse outcomes:

Ballooning Deficits and A Large Supply of Treasuries Loom: A $1.2 trillion 2018 U.S. deficit (and borrowing requirement) coupled with $600 billion of the Fed’s Quantitative Tightening means that there will be, according to David Stockman’s most visual phrase, “the bond pits will be flooded with $1.8 trillion of ‘homeless’ government paper.” Never in the history of modern finance has a near decade old domestic economic recovery faced a financing hurdle that represents almost nine percent of GDP. How large is this hurdle relative to history? At the top of the last U.S. economic expansion, the Federal Deficit was 87% lower (at $160 billion) – which represented only one percent of U.S. GDP at a time that the Fed was still buying Treasuries (in 2007 the Fed purchased $15 billion of Treasuries) and not selling them (or letting them rollover without replacing). So, this time around, the flow of Treasuries will represent supply that is nine times larger (relative to GDP) than was the case in 2007.

To continue reading: The Return Of The Bond Vigilantes

Did the West Just Lose World War III by Forfeit? by James George Jatras

The declare-victory-and-go-home option is looking better and better in Syria. From James George Jatras at strategic-culture.org:

In the fall of the year 1480, at a point not far from Moscow, two armies faced each other on the opposite banks of the Ugra River.

On the one side were the forces of the Grand Duchy of Moscow, whose ruler, Grand Prince Ivan III (known as “the Great” and the “gatherer of the Russian lands”), had recently rejected further payment of tribute to the Great Horde.

On the other were the forces of Grand Khan Ahmed bin Küchük, who had come to lay waste to Moscow and instruct the impudent Prince Ivan to mend his ways.

For weeks the two assembled hosts glared at one another, each wary of crossing the water and becoming vulnerable to attack by the other. In the end, as though heeding the same inaudible signal, both withdrew and hastily returned home.

Thus ended more than two centuries of the Tatar-Mongol yoke upon the land of the Rus’.

Was this event, which came to be known as “the great standing on the Ugra River,” a model of what happened in Syria last week?

Almost immediately upon reports of the staged chemical attack in Douma on April 7, speculation began as to the likely response from the west – which in reality meant from the United States, in turn meaning from President Donald J. Trump. Would Trump, who had repeatedly spoken harshly of his predecessors’ destructive and pointless misadventures in the Middle East, and who just days earlier had signaled his determination to withdraw the several thousand Americans (illegally) stationed in Syria, see through the obvious deception?

Or, whether or not he really believed the patently untrue accusations of Syrian (and Russian) culpability, would Trump take punitive action against Syria? And if so, would it be a demonstrative pinprick of the sort inflicted almost exactly a year earlier in punishment for an obvious false flag chemical attack in Idlib? Or would we see something more “robust” (a word much beloved of laptop bombardiers in Washington) aimed at teaching a lesson to both Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his ally, Prince Ivan III’s obstreperous heir Russian President Vladimir Putin?

To continue reading: Did the West Just Lose World War III by Forfeit?

Doug Casey on the Demise of Nation States

Doug Casey thinks nation-states are slated for extinction, not to be replaced with something even bigger and more centralized, but rather towards decentralization, autonomy, and interaction among those with common interests. From Casey at caseyresearch.com:

Justin’s note: Longtime readers know what Doug Casey thinks of nation states. He says they’ve mostly been an “inefficient, counterproductive, and expensive nuisance” and a “testimony to how thoughtless the average person is.”

He also says nation states are going out of business.

I recently called him up to get an update on where we are today… and what to expect going forward.

Today and tomorrow, I’m sharing our discussion. I think you’ll enjoy…


Justin: So, Doug. Are nation states really in decline?

Doug: They’re definitely in decline, and that’s a good thing—nothing to be concerned about. It’s cause for optimism. The question is why are they falling apart?

Some background. The concept of the nation state came about with the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648, something that everybody only vaguely remembers from a college history class. Actually, today’s students will probably never even hear of it. That class has likely been replaced with Gender Studies or Black History.

Why was it so important? It redirected the concept of “loyalty” away from an individual—a prince or a king—to the State itself. A geographical area now wasn’t so much the possession of a ruler, as a possession of a State. This really got the concept of nationalism going; nationalism is just tribalism writ large.

That’s how the concept was born. But the idea of a nation state is coming to an end. Now almost anybody can go almost anywhere thanks to jet travel; you’re no longer married to one place, like a medieval serf. And you can communicate with anybody anywhere on the planet thanks to the Internet; that makes it much harder to keep all the sheep thinking the same thing.

So, first, people realized that it’s completely ridiculous and dysfunctional to be loyal to some thug who, through an accident of birth or through military competence, set himself up as a prince. Now they’re discovering that it’s equally stupid to be loyal to a government that’s running a country.

To continue reading: Doug Casey on the Demise of Nation States

 

War Fever, by Daniel Lazare

The push towards war touts flawed logic and relies on unproven and dubious assertions. From Daniel Lazare at consortiumnews.com:

There is a fever that seizes this land from time to time and it is the fever of war, a condition that this time seems immune to all known cures, starting with reason, as Daniel Lazare explores.

What happens when an unthinkable war meets an unbeatable case of war fever?  Thanks to Russia-gate, unsubstantiated reports about the use of poison gas in Syria, and a slew of similar factoids and pseudo-scandals, the world may soon find out.

In saner times, including during the Cold War at even its most heated, political leaders knew not to push a conflict with a rival nuclear power too far.  After all, what was the point of getting into a fight in which everyone would lose?

Cooler heads thus prevailed in Washington while more excitable sorts were shipped off to where they could do no harm.  This is what kept the peace during the U-2 affair, the Berlin Wall, and the Cuban missile crisis and what promised to continue doing so even after the advent of American “unipolarity” in 1989-92.

But that was then.  Today, the question is no longer how to avoid a fight that can only lead to catastrophe, but how to avoid a showdown with a country that “in the past four years has annexed Crimea, intervened in eastern Ukraine, sought to influence the American election in 2016, allegedly poisoned a former Russian spy living in Britain and propped up the murderous government of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria,” to quote the bill of indictment in a recent front-page article in The New York Times.

Given that the list of alleged atrocities expands with virtually each passing week, the answer, increasingly, is: no way, no how.  Since Russia is bent on spreading “conflict and discord” throughout the west – if only in the eyes of the U.S., that is – confrontation grows more and more likely.

 

To continue reading: War Fever

Every Kingdom Divided Against Itself, by Raúl Ilargi Meijer

America is a house divided, and the rest of the world knows it. From  Raúl Ilargi Meijer at theautomaticearth.com:

In Matthew 12:22-28, Jesus tells the Pharisees:

Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.

In 1858, US Senate candidate Abraham Lincoln borrows the line:

On June 16, 1858 more than 1,000 delegates met in the Springfield, Illinois, statehouse for the Republican State Convention. At 5:00 p.m. they chose Abraham Lincoln as their candidate for the U.S. Senate, running against Democrat Stephen A. Douglas. At 8:00 p.m. Lincoln delivered this address to his Republican colleagues in the Hall of Representatives. The title reflects part of the speech’s introduction, “A house divided against itself cannot stand,” a concept familiar to Lincoln’s audience as a statement by Jesus recorded in all three synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke).

 

Even Lincoln’s friends regarded the speech as too radical for the occasion. His law partner, William H. Herndon, considered Lincoln as morally courageous but politically incorrect. Lincoln read the speech to him before delivering it, referring to the “house divided” language this way: “The proposition is indisputably true … and I will deliver it as written. I want to use some universally known figure, expressed in simple language as universally known, that it may strike home to the minds of men in order to rouse them to the peril of the times.”

On April 12, 2018, the Washington Post runs this headline:

We need to go big in Syria. North Korea is watching.

The WaPo is undoubtedly disappointed that James Mattis prevailed over more hawkish voices in Washington and the least ‘expansive’ attack was chosen.

Then after the attack, Russian President Putin warns of global ‘chaos’ if the West strikes Syria again. And I’m thinking: Chaos? You ‘Predict’ Chaos? You mean what we have now does not qualify as chaos?

Yes, Washington Post, North Korea is watching. And you know what it sees? It sees a house divided. It sees an America that is perhaps as divided against itself as it was prior to the civil war. An America that elects a president and then initiates multiple investigations against him that are kept going seemingly indefinitely. An America where hatred of one’s fellow countrymen and -women has become the norm.

An America that has adopted a Shakespearian theater as its political system, where all norms of civil conversation have long been thrown out the window, where venomous gossip and backstabbing have become accepted social instruments. An America where anything goes as long as it sells.

In an intriguing development, while Trump pleased the Washington Post, New York Times, CNN and MSNBC, his declared arch-enemies until the rockets flew, his own base turned on him. While the ‘liberals’ (what’s in a word) cheered and smelled the blood, the right wing reminded the Donald that this is not what he was elected on – or for.

To continue reading: Every Kingdom Divided Against Itself