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The Russian Invention of the Caterpillar Tractor was FDR’s Sputnik Moment, and he blew it!

These men are equally careless of the working men, whom they oppress, and of the State, whose existence they imperil.

Too much cannot be said against the men of wealth who sacrifice everything to getting wealth. There is not in the world a more ignoble character than the mere money-getting American, insensible to every duty, regardless of every principle, bent only on amassing a fortune, and putting his fortune only to the basest uses —whether these uses be to speculate in stocks and wreck railroads himself, or to allow his son to lead a life of foolish and expensive idleness and gross debauchery, or to purchase some scoundrel of high social position, foreign or native, for his daughter. Such a man is only the more dangerous if he occasionally does some deed like founding a college or endowing a church, which makes those good people who are also foolish forget his real iniquity. These men are equally careless of the working men, whom they oppress, and of the State, whose existence they imperil. There are not very many of them, but there is a very great number of men who approach more or less closely to the type, and, just in so far as they do so approach, they are curses to the country.                — Theodore Roosevelt, 1895

Mark Ames and Matt Taibbi used to put out an English Language paper in Moscow called The Exile. It was reasonably successful for what it was — of course, Taibbi used to take time off to play power forward for a Russian Basketball Team in Ulan Bator or someother goddawful place. Ames drank a lot. Anyway, when it ultimately got too depressing, they came back to the states and did other things. Taibbi, I believe, is working on infiltrating the Amish; Ames continues to drink. Oh, and they both still write, and write well. They both have a vision of the Zeitgeist that works well for me — “Look at that. Look at this. What the hell is wrong with these people? And, why don’t we people see it?” Left-wing elitest snark coupled with populism.

In addition to his drinking, Mark has a blog and freelances, as well as Twittering. Strongly recommend the Books — their collaboration “the Exile -Sex and Drugs and Libel in the New Russia” and Ames’ “Going Postal” – and Ames’ Blog, “The Exiled.”

You especially need to read Ames’ piece over at Vice this week. Doing what a lot of bloggers with multiple sites do, he’s cross-posted at the Exiled, but Vice is kind of interesting too, in a kind of Facebooky-social commentary kind of way. However, wherever you read it, read the piece. Here’s why — satire is cleansing, and when you combine satire with trenchant analysis, you have a good piece. If the reader is confused about why they feel so awful about the state of the world before the piece, and somewhat clearer about why they feel so awful afterwards, then it’s been an effective piece.

If we need to change the country, and we do, noodling around the edges is not the way to do it.

I appreciated Obama’s speech for what it was — and I have to say, I’ve always felt the childish antics during the State of the Union detracted from giving the address any meaning. If the speech is brilliant, well, cool. If it’s not, stay down and clap politely. But, don’t turn the House into a competitive pep rally. Don’t wave flags, wear funny lapel things, scream you lie at the President or whatever. I like a lot about Obama — the post-modern Ironic piece appeals to me.

However, while the campaign of 2008 was a masterpiece, the entire first term to this point has been a missed opportunity. If we need to change the country, and we do, noodling around the edges is not the way to do it. Healthcare is a big issue — but, goddamnit to hell, make it a big deal. I realize that this is the age of cool media, but people don’t get inspired by cool. The idea of audacity of hope is a great idea — but, how about some audacity. Do big things, get everyone you can behind you, and do big things. Or, fail mightily because of the malefactors of great wealth and power, so that the world can see the tentacles of the octopus…yeah, Teddy Roosevelt and Frank Norris citations in the same sentence.

Instead, we get Mr. Rogers. Fine. Obama’s lack of fire and brimstone undercut, in my mind, the efforts of the younger Democratic Senators to fix the filabuster. So Reid and McConnell have a handshake deal that the R’s won’t filabuster everything if the Dems allow them to introduce more amendments? Forget  that nonsense. Make the filabustering Senator and cronies hold the floor while filibustering. I really think that would bust the party discipline problem and get people in the Senate talking and thinking about big things.

Anyway, Ames piece explains this better than I have — and, it’s right on the mark. This is a fairly long citation, but most of it is a speech from the Founder of the Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party, Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

If President Obama’s SOTU address left you feeling vaguely suicidal but you’re not sure why, a quick comparison to the previous Great Depression president’s SOTU address might clear it up and help you to your logical conclusion. Here is an excerpt from FDR’s 1935 State of the Union speech:

Let us for a moment strip from our simple purpose the confusion that results form a multiplicity of detail and from millions of written and spoken words.

We find our population suffering from old inequalities, little changed by past sporadic remedies. In spite of our efforts and in spite of our talk we have not weeded out the overpriviledged and we have not effectively lifted up the underpriviledged. Both of these manifestations of injustice have retarded happiness. No wise man has any intention of destroying what is known as the “profit motive,” because by the profit motive we mean the right by work to earn a decent livelihood for ourselves and our families.

We have, however, a clear mandate from the people, that Americans must forswear that conception of the acquisition of wealth which, through excessive profits, creates undue private power over private affairs and, to our misfortune, over public affairs as well. In building toward this end we do not destroy ambition, nor do we seek to divide our wealth into equal shares on stated occasions. We continue to recognize the greater ability of some to earn more than others. But we do assert that the ambition of the individual to obtain for him and his a proper security, a reasonable leisure, and a decent living throughout life is an ambition to be preferred to the appetite for great wealth and great power.

I recall to your attention my message to the Congress last June in which I said, “Among our objectives I place the security of the men, women, and children of the Nation first.” That remains our first and continuing task: and in a very real sense every major legislative enactment of this Congress should be a component part of it.

In defining immediate factors which enter into our quest, I have spoken to the Congress and the people of three great divisions:

First. The security of a livelihood through the better use of the national resources of the land in which we live.

Second. The security against the major hazards and vicissitudes of life.

Third. The security of decent homes.

With 20-20 hindsight, the lesson is clear: FDR failed to win the future.

Here’s what FDR should have done in 1935 if he wanted to be as courageous and audacious as Obama. Rather than drone on and on about the Depression and inequality, FDR should have pretended he’d solved all that and moved on to a Higher Purpose. He could have done that by focusing on the Russian invention of the caterpillar tractor in 1877 by Fyodor Blinov as a defining moment in US history.–Ames

We’ve had a bunch of Sputnik moments since Sputnik, and on most of them we’ve whiffed, because we’ve focused on little crap.

What else is there to say? We’ve had a bunch of Sputnik moments since Sputnik, and on most of them we’ve whiffed, because we’ve focused on little crap. We have to do big things to survive, and that takes government; we have to do big things to thrive, and that takes government. Big government that does things to drive change; not enable it, but drive it. Somebody really needs to bell the Republican Cat. The Tea Party Cat. The Plutocratic Cat. And soon, or we’re totally screwed…Ames catches where the Democrats have failed well, and puts it in perspective. Some commentators, although I think I was one of the first, have commented that Obama is slightly to the right of Ike. Instead, I’m starting to think he’s slightly to the left of Roosevelt. Teddy, not FDR. And, frankly, that’s a bad thing. Ames points it out well…
Personally, I’m wondering whom I’ve pissed off today — Ron Paul followers,  Right wing anarchists, Left Wing Anarchists, LaRouche followers, Palinites, the Illuminati? Well, what the hell, have a nice weekend…Big Dreams, Big things

View the original article at Veterans Today

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