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Saturday, May 26, 2012

Bad news, good news

I started this blog to put current events in a broader historical context. Back then, nearly 8 years ago, the broader context was the war in Iraq and the Bush Administration's attempts to transform our world role and increase the power of the executive branch; now, the context relates mainly to our limping economy and our painfully inadequate attempts to do something about it. But looming over both of those is something bigger--our movement away from the Enlightenment project of using reason to design better public policy and improve human life. It is becoming clearer, by the way, how little the Bush Administration thought about what it was doing in Iraq. Teaching the two Iraq wars last week, we reviewed the basic policy document the Bush I Administration wrote in 1990 before embarking on the Gulf War, a two-page memorandum that laid out quite clearly what they were trying to achieve and how they planned to achieve it. It is becoming increasingly clear that there was no such document in 2003--if there had been, I would have met some one by now who had seen it. That, however, is for another time.

Rather than use reason to try to figure out what to do, we have continued to follow the 1960s motto which George W. Bush, as I pointed out in one of my very first posts, criticized, yet followed: "If it feels good, do it." Several news stories this week illustrate where we are, in various ways. One op-ed column this morning, however, gives me a ray of hope.

The JPMorgan Chase scandal, to begin with, shows that little, if anything, has been done to rein in the freewheeling financial practices that landed us in this mess five years ago. The Dodd-Frank law has not fully been implemented, but I have read more than once this week that it's not at all clear that it would have stopped the loss of at least $4 billion in JPMorgan's London office. Jamie Dimon, who had enjoyed a relatively strong reputation, has emerged as the latest example of Keynes's definition of a sound banker: not a banker who is never ruined, but one who is ruined along with all the others. When Dimon testified before a Senate hearing, the Republican Senators argued that the problem was too much regulation--a portent of things to come, should Mitt Romney win re-election. In parallel, we have the ongoing story of how President Obama is going to treat Mitt Romney's past as the head of Bain Capital. On the one hand, the President can hardly hope to appeal to his core constituency if he does not point out, as Newt Gingrich did, that Romney zealously and successfully pursued profits without much caring who got hurt. On the other hand, as the Times reported last week, the President can't come on too strong without alienating the private equity firms, hedge fund managers and brokerage houses upon which he depends for campaign contributions as well. Another story suggests that both parties in Congress would like to deal with the issue of the Bush tax cuts before the election, which could even force the President to give up on raising taxes on the highest earning Americans. (As I noted a few weeks ago, he has no plans to raise them as much as Herbert Hoover did.) The likely outcome of all this is that they will indeed become permanent or at least be extended for two more years, confirming George W. Bush as the President in recent memory who did most to transform America.

On the other side of the political fence we have the Elizabeth Warren scandal, revolving around her, and Harvard Law School's, decision to list her as a minority hire on the apparently dubious grounds that she had a great-great-great grandparent who was Cherokee. Harvard Law did so rather proudly, it seems, because of the pressure it was under to hire non-white women in the 1990s, pressure which came in part from a black male faculty member, Derrick Bell, who was warmly introduced during the controversy by Harvard Law Professor Barack Obama. What depresses me about this is that Warren, in addition to being an obviously courageous woman willing to take on powerful institutions, represents a genuine rags-to-riches story of the kind that has become increasingly unusual in our society. But she works in big-time academia, whose corrupt values have corrupted the most basic value of academia of all, respect for truth. Her campaign is now arguing that the whole flap is designed to question her qualifications. Perhaps it is, in part, but she and Harvard have to take some responsibility for that, since they began claiming that her purported ancestry was part of her qualifications, an absurd position which could cost her a very close Senate race.

Greed and identity politics are two sides of the attack on the Enlightenment we have been suffering. I do not think we will make real progress on our economic problems until people begin stating the obvious: that it hurts society to allow anyone to acquire the kind of multi-billion dollar fortunes which now represent success on Wall Street, and that confiscatory tax rates should stop this, as they did in the middle of the century. I also think that racial, gender, and sexual preference issues will remain a distraction until we re-establish the goal of treating one another as citizens. And that leads me to my one hopeful sign this morning, a column by Charles Blow of the Times on the Louisiana prison system and what it means.

Blow's column is based on an amazing week-long series in the New Orleans Times-Picayune which I hope will become a book. About twenty years ago federal courts ordered Louisiana to reduce overcrowding in its prisons. The state responded not by letting more people out, but by passing a law encouraging the construction of private prisons. Many were constructed--and many local sheriffs were involved in their construction. These prisons became profit-making institutions for local law enforcement, and the overall prison population continued to grow. Today Louisiana incarcerates 1,619 people for every 100,000 population--twice as many as the rest of the United States, three times as many as Russia, and about thirteen times as many as China. More than half of them are non-violent offenders. The increasing proportion in local jails receive very little training of any kind and most inmates are back in prison within five years of their release. This is an appalling national scandal, and I hope the Times-Picayune writers win the Pulitzer they deserve..

What I really like about the story is this. Charles Blow is black--the only regular black columnist on the Times op-ed page. A mainstream minority academic would argue that he had to be hired, and that more like him should be, to provide a "minority perspective" on that hallowed page. But in this case, even though I feel quite sure that a disproportionate number of Louisiana's inmates are black, he wrote the entire column without mentioning race at all. He wrote about greed, essentially, taking away the freedom of large numbers of American citizens and disrupting their communities. He compared us unfavorably to the rest of the world for our remarkable incarceration rate, as we deserve to be compared. He wrote, in short, a piece for the ages, in no way reflecting the particular skewed views of our time.

Thank you, Charles Blow.

Saturday, May 19, 2012


One of the most important readings about the Vietnam War that I have ever encountered is a chapter by the late Douglas Pike, a real authority on the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese, about dau tranh, or struggle, the philosophy behind the Vietnamese Communist revolution. Dau tranh, Pike explains, had two forms: military and political. Of the two, the political was far more important, and indeed, the Viet Cong always had several times as many active political workers as soldiers during the Vietnam War. Their mission was to rally their own troops and sow confusion among the enemy, doing whatever they could, in particular, to make the South Vietnamese government unable to function effectively. They also infiltrated that government at every level and tried to influence the views of enemy forces. Their goal, essentially, was to reduce society to chaos and allow the well-organized Communist Party to take over. The other day I raised some eyebrows in a small group setting by suggesting that the Republican Party has been practicing dau tranh for more than twenty years. It has now crippled government at all levels and has a good chance of reducing much of the United States to chaos in the next ten years.

Dau transh in its current form started with Newt Gingrich's all-out assault on the Democrats in the House of Representatives, whom he was determined to demonize in order to take away their majority. Grover Norquist's anti-tax pledge, now signed by almost every Republican in Congress and thousands more in state legislatures around the country, is another form of dau tranh. So, of course, is the ceaseless drumbeat of propaganda day after day, week after week, year after year, on Limbaugh, Hannity and the rest. So is the attack on the authority of the mainstream media, universities and scientists. Oddly, while this attack on government probably did more than anything to land us in our current economic mess, the mess also makes dau tranh more effective, because it undermines confidence in the government. Conservative Republicans have also waged long-term dau tranh within our legal system, using the Federalist society to develop a network of conservative lawyers and judges and packing the courts whenever they can. Jeffrey Toobin has analyzed the increasingly significant results of that effort in a series of articles in the New Yorker.

I was moved to write this post because I have to deal with dau tranh almost daily myself in managing this blog. One of my regular readers is a fanatical right-winger who probably posts 50 comments a week here, week in and week out. They are not really comments, for the most part--they are links to some piece of right-wing propaganda, often accompanied with personal abuse towards myself. I think I know who he is, although we have never met face to face, and I also regard him as the prime suspect for having put my name on the Obama=Hitler email which is still circulating, even though he denied it when we were both still on the same discussion forum. (He was kicked off the forum when his dau tranh and personal abuse went too far.) I warn, of course, on the blog, that abusive anonymous comments will be deleted, but he berates me for doing so nonetheless. The attempt to keep the extreme Republican view of the world in the foreground is a key element of Republican dau tranh, just as it was for Nazis and Communists.

The Republicans' real target is the idea that dominated the last century--the idea that human reason can design, and create, a better world. That is why Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson have been given places in their Pantheon of villains. I'm afraid they have sufficiently discredited that idea that it no longer dominates our political life, and might be disappearing altogether. Their lust for power is much, much greater than their respect for the truth. This is the threat the nation faces. Pike also argued provocatively in one of his books that there was no known counter-strategy to dau tranh, and I'm afraid he may have been right.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Two Presidents

The big news of the week was of course President Obama's endorsement of gay marriage, prompted, it would seem, by his loose cannon of a Vice President--although I will not be surprised if the whole episode was staged from the beginning. Let me make clear from the outset that I welcome the legalization of gay marriage, which has already occurred in a number of states, and that I hope the President's move wins him more votes than it loses, as it seems very likely to do. (Few if any voters strongly opposed to gay marriage were likely to vote for him anyway, while many young people who support it now have a reason not to stay away in November.) Yet I have recently been discussing the civil rights era of the early 1960s with a friend, and those discussions lead me once again to look at similarities and differences with an eye on discovering the differences in the politics of today and of 50 years ago.

When the gay marriage issue first emerged in the 1990s, Democratic pols evidently sized it up as a danger likely to alienate swing voters. The Congress rushed the "Defense of Marriage Act" through, defining marriage as between a man and a woman, and Bill Clinton signed the bill. That left the issue in the states, and the Massachusetts Supreme Court raised it again in 2004 by ruling that not allowing gays to marry was discriminatory. Karl Rove saw an opportunity to rally Evangelical voters, many of whom had not been sufficiently motivated to come out and vote for George W. Bush in 2000. The Republicans put anti-gay marriage amendments on the ballots in a number of states, and they drew voters in large numbers and turned Bush's defeat in the popular vote in 2000 into a victory in 2004.

No issue, probably, is more demographically sensitive than gay rights. Many older Americans do not realize that their children and grandchildren have gone through high school knowing who was gay since the 1990s. In previous eras, because no one knew who was gay, everyone tended to fear they might be--or might be thought to be. Now that situation has changed. When a male or female classmate affirms their same-sex attraction, it makes clear to the majority of their classmates that they do not share it, and everyone gets on with their lives. All this has had an effect in the last few years, and about a half dozen blue states have now legalized gay marriage. Gay characters on television--which always tries to appeal to youth--have proliferated. The situation in the respect is quite parallel to the pro-abortion movement in the late 1960s, which had scored major successes in New York and California before Roe v. Wade was handed down in 1973.

President Obama handled the issue with typical care in 2008, declining to endorse gay marriage while favoring civil unions. He did score his last major legislative victory two years later by securing the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, a great day for the United States and for the American military. Now, willingly or not, he has been pushed to go further. His statement is a good thing in itself and will, as they say, "energize the base." We will turn later to what effect it is going to have. First, let's compare this situation with another one involving minority rights.

September 2012 will mark the 50th anniversary of the admission of James Meredith into the University of Mississippi, which triggered a riot that killed two people and required federal troops to quell. Then, in the spring of 1963, a series of demonstrations against segregation in public accommodations in Birmingham, Alabama raised the civil rights crisis to a new level. Martin Luther King was among hundreds of arrested demonstrators, and film of police chief Bull Connor's police dogs and firehouses filled the 15-minute evening news broadcasts of the time. As Robert Kennedy explained a year or two later in the oral histories he did after his brother's death, the Administration faced a painful choice. Civil rights demonstrators had been clamoring for years for federal protection, a job which, RFK believed, they lacked either the manpower or the legal basis to do. That left only one option: federal legislation to guarantee equal access to public accommodations, including lunch counters, restaurants, and hotels and motels. JFK had won election in 1960 with the help of the electoral votes of much of the South, and his leading White House political advisers, Kenny O'Donnell and Larry O'Brien, did not want him to get any more out in front on the controversial issue of civil rights. Neither, according to much evidence, did Vice President Johnson, who did not think a public accommodations bill could possibly pass. But the President decided to do so anyway.

On June 11, 1963, the President went on national television to announce the prospect of federal legislation guaranteeing access to public accommodations. He dictated much of the speech in his office just hours before delivering it, and extemporized some of it on the air. The specific occasion for the speech was the admission of two black students to the University of Alabama, accomplished peacefully by federalizing the National Guard troops that George Wallace had mobilized to keep them out. Kennedy used that potent image to put the broader issue of civil rights in the broadest possible context.

"Today we are committed to a worldwide struggle to promote and protect the rights of all who wish to be free. And when Americans are sent to Viet-Nam or West Berlin, we do not ask for whites only. It ought to be possible, therefore, for American students of any color to attend any public institution they select without having to be backed up by troops.

"It ought to be possible for American consumers of any color to receive equal service in places of public accommodation, such as hotels and restaurants and theaters and retail stores, without being forced to resort to demonstrations in the street, and it ought to be possible for American citizens of any color to register and to vote in a free election without interference or fear of reprisal.

"It ought to be possible, in short, for every American to enjoy the privileges of being American without regard to his race or his color. In short, every American ought to have the right to be treated as he would wish to be treated, as one would wish his children to be treated. But this is not the case. . .

"We are confronted primarily with a moral issue. It is as old as the scriptures and is as clear as the American Constitution.

"The heart of the question is whether all Americans are to be afforded equal rights and equal opportunities, whether we are going to treat our fellow Americans as we want to be treated. If an American, because his skin is dark, cannot eat lunch in a restaurant open to the public, if he cannot send his children to the best public school available, if he cannot vote for the public officials who represent him, if, in short, he cannot enjoy the full and free life which all of us want, then who among us would be content to have the color of his skin changed and stand in his place? Who among us would then be content with the counsels of patience and delay?

"One hundred years of delay have passed since President Lincoln freed the slaves, yet their heirs, their grandsons, are not fully free. They are not yet freed from the bonds of injustice. They are not yet freed from social and economic oppression. And this Nation, for all its hopes and all its boasts, will not be fully free until all its citizens are free.

"We preach freedom around the world, and we mean it, and we cherish our freedom here at home, but are we to say to the world, and much more importantly, to each other that this is a land of the free except for the Negroes; that we have no second-class citizens except Negroes; that we have no class or cast system, no ghettoes, no master race except with respect to Negroes?

"Now the time has come for this Nation to fulfill its promise. The events in Birmingham and elsewhere have so increased the cries for equality that no city or State or legislative body can prudently choose to ignore them."

The credit for this speech must go, as Kennedy made clear, to the demonstrators who had literally put their lives on the line by the tens of thousands in cities and towns all over the South during the last three years. Kennedy frequently said that the bill should be called the "Bull Connor bill" because Connor's moves against the demonstrators had aroused the whole country. But Kennedy put the issue in the context, first, of the Cold War struggle for influence and power around the world, and secondly, in the context of the last century of American history. Since the Civil War the United States had combined a color blind Constitution with a caste system in a significant portion of the nation. Now, he said, this must stop.

Kennedy and his men knew they were in for along and politically challenging struggle. He commented to his wife that he was ready, if it came to that, to lose the 1964 election on civil rights. But the bill was nearing house passage when he died. (I will have more to say about that later, when the time comes to review Robert Caro's new book.) He and his brother were concerned above all to pass a House bill with broad Republican support, because only such support would secure a cloture vote against a Senate filibuster. All this came to pass after Kennedy's death.

In passing this law, Kennedy could, of course, draw upon substantial Democratic majorities that were in essence the fruit of the New Deal. Civil rights legislation would split his party, but he saw no alternative. And those aspects of the situation differentiate it from what we now face.

Barack Obama's Justice Department has stopped defending the Defense of Marriage Act in court, but he has not proposed that the act be repealed. (It has now been pointed out to me that a White House spokesman announced almost a year ago that he did favor a repeal bill that had been introduced, but he didn't mention that in the interview.) With a Republican majority in the House, of course, he could not possibly do so. That majority, I would suggest, reflects the failure of the Boom generation of Democrats to do what their parents and grandparents did: to convince the average American, regardless of race, creed or sexual orientation, that they stood for their interests. Obama will be running largely on social issues because he has little else to run on. The Republicans, ironically, will be trying to focus the discussion on the sorry state or our economy, even though they now bear a huge responsibility for it. And thus, Obama's re-election, while good for women's and gay rights, will not in itself hold out any hope of great economic improvement. On the other hand, we should note that in 1963, many Republicans supported Kennedy's civil rights bill. Today I am not aware of a single Republican in Congress who would stand up for gay marriage. Their evolution has been even sadder.

Meanwhile, let us look at some of what President Obama said to ABC News's Robin Roberts. (The entire interview--much too long to quote in full--is here.

"Well-- you know, I have to tell you, as I've said, I've-- I've been going through an evolution on this issue. I've always been adamant that-- gay and lesbian-- Americans should be treated fairly and equally. And that's why in addition to everything we've done in this administration, rolling back Don't Ask, Don't Tell-- so that-- you know, outstanding Americans can serve our country. Whether it's no longer defending the Defense Against Marriage Act, which-- tried to federalize-- what is historically been state law.

"I've stood on the side of broader equality for-- the L.G.B.T. community. And I had hesitated on gay marriage-- in part, because I thought civil unions would be sufficient. That that was something that would give people hospital visitation rights and-- other-- elements that we take for granted. And-- I was sensitive to the fact that-- for a lot of people, you know, the-- the word marriage was something that evokes very powerful traditions, religious beliefs, and so forth.

"But I have to tell you that over the course of-- several years, as I talk to friends and family and neighbors. When I think about-- members of my own staff who are incredibly committed, in monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together. When I think about-- those soldiers or airmen or marines or-- sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf-- and yet, feel constrained, even now that Don't Ask, Don't Tell is gone, because-- they're not able to-- commit themselves in a marriage.

"At a certain point, I've just concluded that-- for me personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that-- I think same-sex couples should be able to get married. Now-- I have to tell you that part of my hesitation on this has also been I didn't want to nationalize the issue. There's a tendency when I weigh in to think suddenly it becomes political and it becomes polarized.

"And what you're seeing is, I think, states working through this issue-- in fits and starts, all across the country. Different communities are arriving at different conclusions, at different times. And I think that's a healthy process and a healthy debate. And I continue to believe that this is an issue that is gonna be worked out at the local level, because historically, this has not been a federal issue, what's recognized as a marriage. . .

"I think that-- you know, the winds of change are happening. They're not blowin'-- with the same force in every state. But I think that what you're gonna see is-- is-- is states-- coming to-- the realization that if-- if a soldier can fight for us, if a police officer can protect our neighborhoods-- if a fire fighter is expected to go into a burning building-- to save our possessions or our kids. The notion that after they were done with that, that we'd say to them, "Oh but by the way, we're gonna treat you differently. That you may not be able to-- enjoy-- the-- the ability of-- of passing on-- what you have to your loved one, if you-- if you die. The notion that somehow if-- if you get sick, your loved one might have trouble visiting you in a hospital.

"You know, I think that as more and more folks think about it, they're gonna say, you know, 'That's not who we are.' And-- and-- as I said, I want to-- I want to emphasize-- that-- I've got a lot of friends-- on the other side of this issue. You know, I'm sure they'll be callin' me up and-- and I respect them. And I understand their perspective, in part, because-- their impulse is the right one. Which is they want to-- they want to preserve and strengthen families.

"And I think they're concerned about-- won't you see families breaking down. It's just that-- maybe they haven't had the experience that I have had in seeing same-sex couples, who are as committed, as monogamous, as responsible-- as loving of-- of-- of a group of parents as-- any-- heterosexual couple that I know. And in some cases, more so."

Now President Obama raised the same issues that Kennedy did--the issue of fairness, and more specifically, the issue of fairness to Americans who serve in the military. But what was most striking to me was the difference in pronouns. Kennedy consistently used "we;" Obama consistently used "I." He presents the decision as primarily a matter of his personal evolution. Kennedy too had evolved considerably on civil rights, but he would never have dreamed of discussing that in public. He gave the American people the results of his evolution and challenged them to accomplish an essential task. He spoke authoritatively, not tentatively and personally. Within about a year, the country had done as he asked.

I think, by the way, that Obama is right one one point. Gay marriage should be left to the states now, although the Supreme Court may eventually force red states to recognize gay marriages under the full faith and credit clause of the Constitution. As it is, gays will probably continue gravitating to the blue states, just as high-achieving black Americans tend to do. And we shall continue to see ourselves as individuals, defined by our most personal characteristics, rather than by the common tasks we face as citizens. That is one of the problems that Barack Obama, sadly, has decided not to take on.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Economies and elections

When I was in graduate school (1971-6), most of my professors had lived through the Depression and the Second World War and cared intensely about politics and economics. Few eras had received more intense attention than the last few years of Weimar Germany (1928-32), when an economic crisis and a political crisis brought Hitler to power. I have compared those years to our last four years more than once. Today I recognized an additional aspect of that comparison.

In 1928, at the peak of a relatively modest economic recovery, the German voters had elected the Grand Coalition, as it was known, of four parties: Social Democrats, the Catholic Center Party, and two middle-class centrist parties. The Chancellor, Hermann Müller, was a socialist. The depression struck almost immediately, and in 1930 the coalition broke up over cuts in the budget that never even should have been proposed. Müller gave way to Heinrich Brüning from the Center Party, who made the disastrous mistake of calling for new elections. The produced such large gains for the Nazis and the Communists--neither of whom would cooperate with anything the government wanted to do--that Brüning could not even pass a budget. With the help of the President, retired Field Marshal von Hindenburg, he began relying on Article 48 of the Weimar Constitution, which allowed the government to issue emergency decrees. Such tactics had long-standing precedents in German history. Bismarck, who created modern Germany in the 1860s, had governed Prussia without a budget for about five years during that decade. Under a truly republican president like Friedrich Ebert, the decree power might have been used to outlaw Nazi and Communist militias, but Ebert had died in his fifties in the mid-1920s and given way to Hindenburg, who did not care about the monarchy at all.

Brüning used decree power to continue cutting the budget for two years. He had an ulterior political motive. President Hoover in 1931 had unilaterally declared a one-year moratorium on payments of war debts and reparations, and if the economic situation had gotten bad enough in Germany Brüning believed that he could get the allies to give up reparations altogether. In the spring of 1932 he succeeded, but Hindenburg rewarded him by removing him and replacing him with two non-political chancellors, von Papen and Schleicher. They in turn gave way to Hitler in January 1933 and within three months Hitler had eliminated the Weimar Republic altogether.

Now we have no Nazi Party, no Communist Party, and no Hitler waiting in the wings, but it occurred to me this morning as I read the latest disappointing jobs report that the Republican Party has been using the tactics in opposition that Brüning used in power. Let us return for a moment to the situation of three years ago, when President Obama, we can now say with certainty, made a dreadful and perhaps fatal mistake when he asked for only an inadequate stimulus from the Congress and gave up on breaking up some of the big banks. On the one hand, he has only managed now to reduce unemployment to the very high level that it had reached when he came into office; on the other, he failed to mobilize populist anger or interest the country in a genuine transformation of our society. Because unemployment was much worse in the fall of 2010 than when he came into office, he lost his majority in the House. Since then, the Republicans have been able to block any meaningful steps on the economic front and have forced Obama into focusing on austerity (which seems to be part of his personal make-up as well.) As a result, although the private sector has recovered somewhat, the public sector keeps shrinking and very few net jobs are being added. The President's approval rating remains stuck at 42% and he may very well lose the election.

I am certain that this is no accident. The Republicans are not the least interested in economic recovery before November. As Mitch McConnell made clear in January 2009, they have no other thought but defeating Obama, and recovery would work against that goal. In this very widely read excerpt from their new book, Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein rightly blame the Republicans for the deadlock in our politics, but they ascribe Republican behavior to ideology. I think that is about half true, and perhaps growing. The other half is total political cynicism, ready to sacrifice the country's economic health to get themselves back into power on the back of an economic crisis for which they will have much less than no solution. The Boom generation now rules the Republican Party as it never has, and apparently never will, rule the Democratic Party, and it is behaving with totally selfish irresponsibility. The contrast with events of twenty years ago is rather striking. Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush left the federal budget in a shambles, but Republicans did not pursue total obstructionism and allowed Bill Clinton to clean up the mess. (To be sure, even then, Clinton's critical tax increase on higher incomes passed without a single Republican vote in the House, but it didn't need 60 votes to get through the Senate.) We had eight years of responsible fiscal management, which George W. Bush immediately undid, with disastrous consequences. Now no one has been able to fix them.

President Obama bears some blame for the catastrophe, because it has taken him much too long to call the Republicans out on what they were doing. His attempts to look strong by using executive orders will not have dramatic results. Meanwhile, our underlying economic state is looking worse and worse. The chances are good that we too, like Germany in 1932, are in for much worse times--although of a very different character than the ones they went through.