Mark Ames Calls for Restoration of Policies of President Eisenhower

In a segment on the Dylan Ratigan show (hat tip Joe Costello), the normally fire-breathing Mark Ames set forth a policy program that plans to use Grover Norquist tactics to bring back Eisenhower era policies.


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  1. Glenn Condell

    Eisenhower tax rates are about as likely to return as his courage in opposing Israeli megalomania. Way of the dodo and all that.

    Look at that retirement speech of his. It is a marvel, but way too far left to be uttered by any American Democrat leader (let alone Republican) from the last 40 years. The man if he lived now would be pilloried and abused by the likes of Drudge and Breitbart.

    It’s sobering to realise that if I’d lived in the 50s there is a damn good chance I’d have been an Eisenhower Republican. If there is one word to describe the quality I like best in a pollie, it would be ‘prudence; and Ike had so much it seemed to emanate from his presence.

    Not much evidence of it within a bull’s roar of the leadership of either party now.

    1. Just Tired

      I did grow up in the ’50s and I don’t think I actually met a Republican until some time in the ’70s. That said, I wish I had a nickle for every time I heard my parents and every other person of voting age say: “I’m a Democrat but I voted for Ike.”

  2. craazyman

    I wouldn’t stop with the restoration of Eisenhower’s tax rates.

    I’d reinstate Eisenhower himself. You could to this easily, by making a life-like wax figure of Eisenhower and sit it in the Oval Office chair.

    Then all you’d need is some voodoo priestess, like the very hot and very cool Tia Dalma in Pirates of the Carribean, to channel the Big Man’s spirit and tell us what he wants.

    I bet a 90% tax rate on the parasite class is only the beginning. Probably cutting down on war profiteering and instituting a Wall Street transaction tax would be on the short list.

    And the other good thing about this is Tia Dalma could give the State of the Union address. It would be nice to have a hot president. Michelle Bachman is kind of hot, actually, but I’d have to turn down the sound if she ever made a speech, or I might puke. ha ha.

    Let’s bring back the Big Guy for one more tour of duty. He’d know what to do.

  3. BH in MA

    I use the example of my parents all the time. At a time when, if you graduated from high school you could make a decent living and raise a family, my father made it through college (’55) and grad school (’57). He married my mother in ’63 and she kept her job for a year so they could save her $5,000 take home pay and put 20% down on a $25K house (3BR ranch on 1/4 acre, 1 car garage). I know exactly where that house is and what it’s worth. When my wife and house hunted in the 90’s we would have had to make a combined 250K to pull off a similar feat. What my parents could do on two incomes in 1963 could not be done 30 years later unless your combined earnings put you in the top 3% or so.

    Conservatives want to cap government spending to 18% of GDP because that’s the long term average. Okay, fine. You want long term average spending caps, we want long term average tax rates. That would be about 70% for the top bracket, I think.

  4. Mark P.

    Eisenhower’s ‘Cross of Iron’ speech in April 1953 — less recalled now — is arguably of more lasting interest and value than that final parting speech, with its mention of the military-industrial complex, which everybody knows. The ‘Cross of Iron’ speech is certainly more specific. Here’s some of it —

    This has been the way of life forged by 8 years of fear and force.

    What can the world, or any nation in it, hope for if no turning is found on this dread road?

    The worst to be feared and the best to be expected can be simply stated.

    The worst is atomic war.

    The best would be this: a life of perpetual fear and tension; a burden of arms draining the wealth and the labor of all peoples; a wasting of strength that defies the American system or the Soviet system or any system to achieve true abundance and happiness for the peoples of this earth.

    Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.

    This world in arms in not spending money alone.

    It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.

    The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities.

    It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population.

    It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals.

    It is some 50 miles of concrete highway.

    We pay for a single fighter with a half million bushels of wheat.

    We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people.

    This, I repeat, is the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking.

    This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.

    1. Glenn Condell

      It’s incredible really. He sounds like Dennis Kucinich or Tom Engelhardt, crossed with Moses or Jove.

      He is the path not travelled by the US; he was aware it had come to a crossroads and he did everything in his power to try and channel all that unprecedented power away from war and death and into into safe and productive pursuits.

      He failed, and it’s been all downhill since. We prefer noble lies to ugly truths nowadays.

      1. Mark P.

        ‘He sounds like Dennis Kucinich or Tom Engelhardt, crossed with Moses or Jove.’

        While it’s a great speech — arguably, comparable to some of Lincoln’s — the reality is more complicated than that. It’s usually a mistake to judge another era’s personalities and behaviors via the straightforward application of the values of one’s own era.

        However, yes: Eisenhower entered the White House and left it worried about the enlarged sway that the military-industrial complex had gained over the US economy and its policy-making.

        Hence, this speech, for instance. As president-elect in late 1952, Eisenhower had toured the lines between North and South Korea — with much aerial observation and discussions with other generals and regular troops — and then come home, playing his cards close to his chest. The general expectation was that, once the great C-in-C of WWII entered the White House, he’d prosecute America’s war in Korea to a victorious conclusion, as the then-universally disparaged Truman had failed to.

        Eisenhower was a great general, however, of a certain kind. There’s a line — in Hemingway, of all places — where, in regards to what constitutes great military leadership, somebody says, “the amateurs go on about strategy, but the professionals talk about logistics.” Eisenhower’s genius was logistics (he oversaw the invasion of Europe, after all, a military action which may be historically unique in terms of scale). Above all, Eisenhower was supremely pragmatic.

        And so having toured North Korea’s fortifications, he simply concluded that the Korean war was not winnable on any worthwhile terms and, indeed, not worth fighting merely as a holding action in which American soldiers’ lives and material would continue to be flushed down the drain.

        Furthermore, the early Cold War build-up — and the Korean War — meant military expenditures were running at an immensely high level: in 1953, military spending as a percentage of America’s GDP reached its highest level after WWII and a level that’s been unmatched since. Those 90 percent tax rates on the wealthiest U.S. citizens then that people nowadays like to bring up were primarily driven by that fact. (Though the lessons of the Great Depression and the New Deal also remained fairly evident to most people, including Eisenhower.)

        And so Eisenhower’s ‘Cross of Iron’ speech derives from this very specific context. It was, particularly, a step on the way to closing down the Korean War. Which Eisenhower did: a “Nixon-goes-to-China” move that probably would have gotten Truman impeached, and which was almost universally criticized by other Republicans and by many Democrats.

        Eisenhower just shrugged them off, however, and said: “The war is over. I hope my son is going to come home soon.” You’ve got to love that.

        Also, as this article on Eisenhower’s handling of the Korea War, notes: “After Eisenhower made peace in Korea, not one American serviceman was killed in action during the remaining seven and a half years of his presidency. No American president since Ike can make that claim.”

        So that’s all good. But another side of Eisenhower’s push to reduce expenditures of U.S. blood and treasure was his
        New Look national security policy in 1954, which first made nuclear weapons the centerpiece of U.S. strategy.

        It’s not a fact we much recall now, but in the early 1950s the U.S. confronted (or saw itself as confronting) numerically superior Soviet and Chinese conventional militaries. So Eisenhower’s Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles, proposed that since “we cannot build a 20,000 mile Maginot Line or match the Red armies,” America should therefore embrace asymmetry and nuclear arms, with their “vast new possibilities to stop open aggression before it starts.”

        Eisenhower himself liked the financial tradeoff involved: “the dependence we are placing on new weapons would justify completely some reduction in conventional forces.” That is, as the slogan coined to sell the New Look to the American public put it, nukes would give “more bang for the buck.”

        Not a position that Dennis Kucinich or Tom Engelhardt would favor.

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