The American Disease

Among the chattering classes and discount store habitues, the conversation for once is the same: how low and how long? The Times finally writes about Bernake’s Princeton background and his multi-year (decade) study of Japan’s “Lost Decade”. Nice for them to read their own Op-Ed page — Krugman addressed this almost three weeks ago. How embarrassing for them both that USA Today first ran a far more in depth and useful article earlier in January.

American financial leaders (such as they are) and economically illiterate political leadership do have the advantage of studying the Japan case (as in a Harvard or Wharton “case study”). All of the above links emphasize differences remain. Yet none, however, address the most important: what Japan expert Chalmers Johnson and Ron Paul both hammer home — the overt and hidden costs of Empire. Japan in the 1990s did not run massive deficits to maintain a Syracuse Expedition (again) to occupy Micronesia. Their deficits, while unproductive, at least were directed towards infrastructure improvement (and Diet crony construction companies). Our deficits have no productive ROI at all -short or long term.

___________________

Sic Transit Gloria

Most of the Japanese first tier economy (those keiretsu formed to attack global markets; the second tier is the protected, amazingly inefficient Japanese domestics economy) eventually succumbed to the Pearl River complex. Sony and other famous brands now manufacture everything from TVs to computers there. Others are determined to retain control of their technological destiny. These few fight ferociously to retain both R&D and manufacturing in Japan. It may be a losing cause.

As you know well, the U.S. long ago abandoned all of this, and wrote off the foundations for the middle and aspiring middle class. Now the oursourcing migrates upwards to the intellectual and technical class — R&D and manufacturing both go to China, Malaysia, Taiwan and elsewhere. Or H1(B) visas for importing less expensive talent here.

Financial returns to institutional private equity are all that matters. This is the other side of American fragility — there is no there there to cushion reverses in an American financial abritrage facade. Greenwich Connecticut and other small, opulent oasises of liquidity are shrinking in a growing desert. Brittle? One is reminded of Liberty Ships snapping in half in the middle of the Atlantic due to faulty welds. Snap. And gone. Paulson in his recent trip to Tokyo engaged in “frank” talks about the U.S. economy and finances.

This didn’t happen overnight. We remember sitting in on some of the largest trade and commerce organizations meetings in the early 1990s to 2000s. They would bring Chinese officials to meet privately with senior American executives. Outsource and all will be yours. While offering lessons and success stories on how to do it well. John Chambers of Cisco famously said he wanted to turn Cisco into a Chinese company. His fault? Candor. A few footsteps they say determine a path. We are five miles down that trek.

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Tragically, Clyde Prestowitz and others in the 1980s foresaw much of this (although his analysis is similar but distinct from Buchanan’s more racially nativist approach). One of Prestowitz’s more colorful stories involved negotiating “fair trade” with the Japanese — i.e., we would allow them to hollow out the American economy with subsidized keiretsu (turning Detroit much to Japanese delight into a modern Dresden, something unachievable in 1941-45) but ask them to buy the few remaining items we actually did produce, in this case satellites. In typical Japanese fashion, they complied and visited Hughes (at that time a meaningful company that did more than advertise for broadband to remote rural areas). Hughes’ officials called Prestowitz, enraged. All the Japanese wanted to buy? The blueprints. Eventually the American concept of purchase of actual goods prevailed. The Japanese offered to buy mops and buckets (according to Prestowitz).

American ideology long ago allowed the Japanese to act so. And now the Chinese similarly eviscerate our economy and social infrastructure. The famous case of Zenith v. Matsushita comes to mind. There, Zenith, an actual American-based manufacturer of televisions, claimed the Japanese dumped TVs on America below costs and thus fair market value. American jurists schooled in the pernicious “Chicago School” and others on the bench ruled in favor of the Japanese. How absurd. Matsushita is a company. A company exits to make profits and return value to shareholders. Ipso facto it cannot and would not sell mass quantities below cost when it is not in a monopoly position (or allegedly seeking such). You know the rest. What you may not know how many Japanese cackled at the stupid Americans openly in print and books. Americans, of course, don’t read Japanese. And Ambassadors at the time Mansfield and later Armacost suppressed many – the majority — of ‘negative’ cables back to Washington. We have little reason much changed until the mid 1990s. Perhaps the most recent covered Elvis impersonators in Tokyo.

But we digress. The American housing slump promises to be merely one of the last nails in the artificially inflated American lifestyle. We agree the swaggering “Bring ‘Em On” Imperial self image will suffer a deflation more lasting than strategic stalemate or defeat in Iraq. Long term $100 oil is a cruel additional cut. It used to be that an Empire of Liberty referred to (at the time massive) North American continent. A first step is a necessary audit of our strategic commitments abroad and to realign our force structure accordingly.

This will be a challenge. Consider the Japanese predicament of the early 1990s mentioned in the links, supra. Theirs was limited to the stunning Chinese expansion. Throughout the 1990s, for example, the Chinese were building a Verizon or SBC (now purchaser of AT&T) a year (think of that for a moment). You may have seen Tom Brokaw mention something along these lines for 35 seconds in 1997 after covering a chemical fire in Strawberry Point, Iowa. We face something far different: a strategic challenge with our largest creditor. We can not think of any historical parallel. A Suez Crisis will not even be needed. One phone call. Or shift in holdings. And it’s over.

Can this conundrum be overcome by Stakhanovite Audacity? Even if the second flight after Tehran would be to Tianamen Square with an interest payment cheque? Doubtful. The Chinese have centuries of eloquence and Confucian respect for experience to rebuff orations from a 40 something.

___________

Reality is often cruel to lofty rhetoric. A more arduous path lies ahead: sustained, coherent and explicit explanation in direct and often blunt terms to the American people. A period of possibly painful realignment and rebirth is the needed ‘change’. The goal? An escape from seemingly eggshell disintegration to a more stable and maintainable future. (Please save hollow posturing of “You are too negative and Yankee ingenuity and genius always wins blah blah blah”).

Can one find the political skills while avoiding “malaise” impotence? Projecting visceral demonstration of proactive executive action — while avoiding the impotence of the “Rose Garden strategy”? The horizon is not promising. Still, the easiest part is realigning foreign policy ends and means. Strategic calculations based on interest rather than romantic (or camouflaged as such) ideology are more within Executive means — as we have painfully learned under this regime — even if pursued without Addington’s destructive zeal. Add a Commission or three, some hearings, and one at least has a beginning.

Rebirth? More difficult. Restoration of a viable middle class and the willing (one hopes) or frankly political recognition by the plutocratic elites that this too is in their self interest will invite a maelstrom. Yet even those elites are beginning to feel the pinch but don’t understand why and blame Sarbanes Oxley, legislation enacted after the Enron, MCI and other fiascos of corporate deception. Regardless, a viable middle class will not be based on selling services to each other. The most obvious reason? Services are not exportable in sufficient scale to make a meaningful impact (except when we outsourced the whole bathtub to Bangalore). The political combat involved on any of this will be explosive. Beyond the most dynamic moments of the 1990s — or even 1960s.

A key barometer of success will be eliminating the cant that America should maintain the by now socially suicidal notion of “free trade” or even its pathetic cousin “fair trade” as a substitute for thought. Even TMZ viewers feel in their bones this to be untrue. At some primal level, they recognize that exporters overseas simply want access to the temporarily most lucrative consumptive market. How to finesse rebirth when our rival and creditor holds the cards?

We must also ask, even if this is accomplished, will Americans actually want to work making things? Will they recognize the addiction of buying electronic trinkets that become obsolete in 18 months and return nothing to the American industrial or social fabric is a debilitating habit? It’s a non-trivial question. Americans are bombarded by TV, magazines and neighbors to seek careers where offices are work free, cars are expensive and almost everyone sleeps with everyone else. Knowing this is fantasy while trapped by “golden handcuffs” in a hated office job offers no reprieve. Work still consists of sitting at a desk in an air conditioned office. Or filled with endless meetings with other ‘similarly productive’ colleagues.

Perhaps it is all asking too much. To realign foreign strategic interests while seeking domestic realignment is a gargantuan task. Each alone is a huge undertaking. Both or one could fail — perhaps in epic electoral disaster. Oh, the humanity indeed. Yet we see few other ways out.

McCain sadly offers not even a sliver of hope. (We say this acknowledging we drank the Kool Aid there in 2000 contra the Warlord). HRC? Difficult to say. Triangulation is always a gnawing legacy. Though she has the guts we think to make hard calls. Perhaps compromise might be worse than a course pursued and articulated in full. The Crown Prince? His new era of Change we still believe will get crushed like a bug by the permanent Imperial City and plutocratic interests. Once he is in office — to mix metaphors — the schools of political reality pirahanas will swerve in for the kill. And the 25 year olds now lionized on news magazine covers will play Radiohead some more, tune out and talk about the fix. Maybe not, and Obamamania will be more than a car wreck. Still not a roll of dice we are willing to take at this remove.

Perhaps MoDo will guide us.

Comments

  1. Comment says

    Fran Townsend has more in common with Dave Shuster than either might realize – Osmosis – Townsend being interviewed by Lamb was interesting because you could hear how a normal person absorbs the national security state bias and then relates it as normal thinking. Townsend seemed truly puzzled that things like FISA re-newal would be controversial or that it would be conceivable to withdraw from Iraq. There was much in the transcript for anthropologists – Bottom line, this mindset is what Obama’s Orphic campaign is against and that’s what getting people fired up, whether they realize it or not.

  2. A Random Quote says

    “I don’t *get* this Amy Winehouse … Isn’t she just another whiny singer?”
    ~Brian Kilmeade
    Fox & Friends

  3. Anon says

    We can’t wait for Le Monde to come up with a headline that capitulates by saying ” LE CHANGE “

  4. Dr Leo Strauss says

    re Dave T. and education — really can’t dispute the notion that a direct and blunt explanation of our strategic/social position would not survive one focus group. You’re description in the end seems right — a fantasy; yet to quote that giant of Humanitarian Involvement (and with only very small snark and large respect) — Bono, to a stadium audience, “dream, dream out loud, in high volume. It’s what we do. Lucky bastards.”

    Wonderful Le Monde write up. One can just see Jack Lang, former French Minister of Culture, who tried to purge French use of Anglo-Saxon slang such as “Le Big Mac” would be privately enraged at “Super Mardi”. Great stuff.

  5. Anon says

    Ah – we heard Miss SC was nervous – and that is cool. People reports Amy Winehouse racking up prizes – She is very talented so you have to give a couple or three claps for her. She gets lumped in with others who struggle under the spotlight and that is unfair to all involved. Spears is not musical but has a superior wiggle.

  6. Comment says

    We were just scanning Le Monde and they clearly dig Obama, but they seem intrigued by Huckabee too in sort of an anthropological way.

  7. Comment says

    When Obama started his campaign – he varied his stump speech but it led to problems – Media would pounce on him and his wife about trivia. This was a disaster and he disciplined himself to repeat standard tested lines. He had no choice if he wanted to win. If you follow politics his silly line about his cousin Cheney quickly becomes boring – But most people don’t follow politics so it works.

    Obama heading up law review at Harvard may be a lot about nuthin’, but Harvard is a meritocrat freak show and we know people who destroyed their imaginations filling their days with bogus extra curriculars in order to get in (often failing). So it’s impressive a one time Hawaiian slacker was able to instill respect and triumph.

    Btw – Student debt is out of control and the Obama’s are the only ones who grok that.

  8. Rick says

    We just admire Obama’s ability to get away with Orphic bromides on the stump – He is the only one who can make something like that sound cool –

    Oh yeah. Initially, my issue with Obama was that he was essentially “out-Clintoning the Clintons”. As much as I appreciate the talent behind the way his campaign has managed to do this, it’s still largely about triangulated rhetoric of an empty sort. So on the one hand, the skill behind it is something to behold; but on the other, it shows a certain amount of contempt for the public square or rather, the marketplace of ideas.

    That said, they have to operate in an environment in which the national discourse and our politics, are essentially broken. The establishment media has an agenda which does not include most Americans and one has to work within that environment.

  9. Comment says

    Obama offers hope when he talks about changing the “mindset” that led to Iraq. The mindset is key – When you see the Tweety media say staying in Iraq is cool if we have low casualties, you see an element of the wicked mindset that leads to imperial squalor.

  10. Comment says

    We just admire Obama’s ability to get away with Orphic bromides on the stump – He is the only one who can make something like that sound cool – His graphic artist is excellent too- He does have good plans on his website and he is obviously bright in his book (we only read the first one). Gee Dubs basically drooled all thru 2000. Candidates do what the have to do. Lord knows McCain with his endless promise to follow UBL to “the gates of hell” has become a bore. But you know, we all want an adventure.

  11. Rick says

    Colin Powell? Only the media respects him, as far as I can tell. Dems don’t, Reps don’t. People in general actually remember bits of images of the UN speech, which in itself is atypical for most Americans. If Obama has any brains, he’ll call Powell and tell him to endorse anyone but him! Same goes for anyone else who isn’t GOP, really.

  12. Delia says

    At this point the Crown Prince seems the best available option, perhaps because he is something of an unknown. HRC is still committed to the enterprise of Empire, which, as we see, is the fundamental problem. The Imperial City is not going to take kindly to any attempt to dismantle what has become its raison d’etre. So even if Obama perceives the problem clearly, which we do not know, his range of action will be greatly circumscibed. Still, he seems a better bet than McCain, with his vision of a Hundred Years’ War or HRC who doesn’t seem capable of questioning the tenets of Empire.

    It’s going to take a lot more existential pain before most Americans can make the logical connections.

  13. Rick says

    “Change, not as slogan, not as a bumper sticker, but CHANGE you can believe in.”

    –Yes, this is precisely the kind of useless garbage that chaps my hide. What, change is now a faith-based operation? How can I believe when there’s nothing being offered up as substance for such belief? Jeebus, I wish he’d just stop it with the valence issues, but after Tuesday maybe we’ll get to see a little more substance. Oddly enough, it’s working quite well and people are buying… sometimes I just turn it all off.

    HRC is in trouble. No doubt. They canned Patty Solis Doyle. Brought in Maggie Williams, nothing new there. Penn stays, oddly enough. For all their hack star power, I don’t think they even know what they’re doing.

    What we’re seeing now is all about her negatives going in.

  14. Comment says

    Indeed – And Obama’s light seeming selling point as being an educated, civilized, cool, likeable guy is easy to cynicize – But it’s not to be sneezed at. Mock? Yes – But Sneeze? No. As unique as he is, he is the most normal person to seek the Presidency in a while.
    If he wins – which is still a tough call – he will have immense challenges, but he has imagination and no one else does. So he offers possibility, imo.

    re Colin Powell was on TV today winking at Obama and the others – telling them he was waiting to see who they will appoint before he endorses … In reality , he is waiting to figure out who will win. Why is he respected?

  15. Rick says

    Comment, there’s no denying the imagery of that sentence. Giving the world the finger in a more conformist way. Sadly, that’s all they have, both literally and figuratively.

    Even more sadly, too much of the Dem political elite thinks acting like GOP-lite is somehow attractive.

  16. Comment says

    Our favorite Obama slogan is when he says “Change, not as slogan, not as a bumper sticker, but CHANGE you can believe in.” No one ever calls him on it. If HRC tried a line like that Tweety would be calling her the Manchurian candidate. Oh wait, he already called her that. Anyway, Big day for Obama yesterday. Will Tuesday be huge?

  17. Comment says

    Not being a reactionary creep is a big deal. The gop has has a policy of forced assholeness for the past few years and you see how it ties people like Mitt in knots when a natural ass has to figure out how to give the world the middle finger in a more conformist way.

  18. Comment says

    HRC’s 60 day pledge to begin withdraw is probably a bit like Nixon’s secret plan to end the war in ’68. With candidates it’s all about relative truth. Obama’s plan is essentially the same – it’s just a bit more emphatic. That’s not to say he will be able to pull it off. McCain is just itching for trouble, but he may just be the opposite when he’s in.

  19. Rick says

    Lagavulin,

    If you are referring to my post, there’s no way I’d claim the crown prince represents much beyond him not being a reactionary creep. Then again, he’s not exactly a known quantity, so there’s no real way of knowing just yet, especially given his near total reliance on valence issue-oriented rhetoric. HRC, on the other hand, is a known quantity and quite predictable in her ideological constraints. But no, this isn’t an argument either way about the crown prince.

    Frankly, I thought Sauer-Thompson’s post on deliberative democracy more useful than anything I would say about Obama.

    Instead, we hear that Ned Kelly was a political philosopher in the mind of a scotch drinker who seemingly prefers the Islay malts.

    Never mind all that fancy schmancy deliberative stuff when we can simply wax sarcastic, eh?

    Fair dinkum, mate!

  20. Lagavulin says

    In 15-20 years, millions of men and women of my generation will be faced with the gnawing reality that they went to college, went to Iraq, went to grad school, went to work, and went shopping, and they are still broke, still unhappy, and still ‘thinking about tomorrow.’ Some will be content with their Container Store soma, and others will be doing the homework or paying the rent for their kids in desperate but vicarious hope to win big. But this is still America, so many others will not accept surrender so easily and will be seeing red (and white and blue) about the spoils of undeserved privilege. Also, my crystal ball is blurry, but Jim Webb is involved somehow and he looks pissed.

    Come the revolution. Just no idea what it will look like. MLK or Ned Kelly? But like all revolutions it will fail unless it simply reflects an already underway process of institutional and societal CHANGE. Oops – is this an argument that the crown prince may be our only chance to get the ball rolling in time?

  21. Rick says

    Terrific post.

    While I like the idea of rejuvenating education (I’ve been complaining about that ever since I moved out West 20 years ago, it’s that bad out here), that’s a longer term project.

    The Australians––specifically Rudd’s gumint––are doing something we could very well do here: having a deliberative conference which seems to be truly democratic in nature. See here:

    http://www.sauer-thompson.com/archives/opinion/2008/02/talk-fest-or-de.php#more

    You’ll notice it’s not about a commission or two, it’s about getting a large number (1000) to participate in a large discussion about their future as a nation. It’s a way of kick-starting The Commons back into existence.

    Getting back to your point about the establishment Apparat, they would never approve of such a thing. That would mean them ceding control of the machinations of policy creation they have spent all that time and all that money trying to wrest absolute control of in the first place.

    No Republican could ever go against that machine. HRC herself would never do it either, for many of the same reasons. She’s spent an awful lot of energy trying to endear herself to the Imperial City set and as such, she is precluded from making such “tough” decisions. She’s also quite the True Believer when it comes to neo-liberalism.

    While I’m not a fan of Obama as such, if he is who he says he is, then his administration will offer some possibility for having a national discourse. I don’t have any faith in that, but as the remaining preznitential candidates go, he’s the only one left that isn’t a wholly owned subsidiary of Empires R US.

    You’re correct, of course, that the banshees will lay into him with a fusillade of ugliness the second he tries to enact some “change” agenda, real or not.

    But there’s another side to all this that may make things more interesting this time: 1) Congressional approval ratings are in Sub-basement 4 of the Watergate car park; 2) the economy isn’t going to tank in a way where the apparat can control public perceptions sufficiently to escape real socio-political backlash of some sort; 3) between our failed misadventures abroad to an electoral system that leaves everyone in doubt of the actual result, our government is losing its very legitimacy… and quickly.

    I can’t say how people will react to all this. It’s possible they’ll continue to behave like Sheeple, graciously being led to slaughter. It’s also possible they’ll get a clue and the dynamic will change. Looking at fed programs like Infra-Guard, I’m inclined to think the apparat is expecting trouble from The People.

  22. says

    “A more arduous path lies ahead: sustained, coherent and explicit explanation in direct and often blunt terms to the American people.”

    Try as I may (honestly, not very hard), I can’t regard that as anything but a fantasy. Who would listen, and why? We have spent the last half century (more, really) assiduously teaching ourselves not to listen to reality. The average American gets hours a night of indoctrination into a fantasy world of problems solved in an hour, usually by violence, or even faster by the purchase of the right product. And, as Inquire and you note, our educational system is just making things worse, as intended by the people destroying it.

    Not only can the falcon not hear the falconer, the falconer has forgotten the existence of the falcon. And the rough beast already sits enthroned. Alas, Babylon!

  23. Dr Leo Strauss says

    Inquire, that is an excellent point. American attention deficit disorder shows clearly regarding education. The Schmittean anti-Enlightenment movement Over There and here at home has always been hostile to the very concept of public education. Accessibility to education and its leveling effect a devastating threat.

    At the turn of the century, American public education was the envy and marvel of the world. We absorbed mass population influxes, created a unified meritocracy (by the standards of the Old World and the Pacific Rim), and emphasized social subjects as well as rigorous math and science.

    The Rightist assault on public education for the last 4 decades or so has landed too many blows — and created a self fulfilling dynamic of failing schools directing more students to controlled private (and expensive) schools, etc. Effectively reversing what we accomplished in the early 20th century. Otoh, ‘experimental approaches’ begun in the 1960s and 70s also discredited the core notion of public education. One must also acknowledge that the system in many states now is ossified into a lethargic bureaucracy.

    Should public education continue its decline and suffer further Schmittean and Rightist assaults, we firmly believe that its role as a bulwark against long term oligarchical rule evaporates. Beyond Leno-esque smirks and periodic Gallop polls about American student rankings.

    But Americans must first remember who they are and what a republic stands for. Without that, and recognizing the ideological foundations driving the hostility to public education, moving the deck chairs seems unappealing. How can one remember in time?

  24. inquire says

    Dr Leo,

    Given you lengthy writings on the subject in the previous century, ought not the solution to the endemic problems you speak of be to recover true liberal education? Should we not retask our ailing education system to create (at least some) free thinking individuals steeped in philosophy, history, literature etc. with the ability for freedom of thought. Toppling the corrupt system of education seems the only long-term generational approach to right the listing ship of state that threatens to swamp the rest of the globe.

    The hearings or three you suggest, provided the executive has a fervent congress to hold them, will provide the first steps, but only the rebuilding of sufficient intellectual capital in North American can reclaim the political, diplomatic, and economic knowledge you rightly lament. If the education system weren’t so fundamentally bankrupt on our continent, perhaps we would have a hope of rebirth. Without a fundamental reintroduction of educational rigour, all else will crumble.

  25. Comment says

    St John the genial warmonger is on CNN now making his pitch and he is amping up his “surrender” demagoguery. Now he references a mother (not an oppositional mom, so his compassion is politically selective) giving him a bracelet and he promises her that her son won’t die in vain.

    This b***s*** that McCain copies from Bush suggesting he can affect the meaning of lives of deceased soldiers is really gross.

    It’s total BS that withdraw is equal to surrender, but the GOP bought into that whole vengenful way thinking – like neocons saying not invading Iran/Iraq = “objective” surrender. It’s a Tweety like recipe for sadness.

    Israel got into that trap about Lebanon – when an unwritten agreement was formed between Nasrallah and the Israel right to call the 2000 withdraw a surrender/defeat. Instead of just admitting error and cutting losses, all was cast in stark terms usually reserved for more clear cut scenarios.

    Why the masochism?

  26. Anon says

    Pat Buchanan: Chris, did you see this? This [hand chops] is it. The whole Shebeen – Bring this up in a debate and Hillary is toast – Obama? [laughs] Forget about it, his base insists on this …

    Chris Matthews: [reading the Times article]] Pat, you’re a genius. Tip said politics was local, but he never said it was a local sex change …

    Pat Buchanan: You’re forgetting the Goldman aspect ..

    http://dealbook.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/02/08/another-goldman-perk-sex-changes/?em&ex=1202706000&en=a1bd77bc6d7e6936&ei=5087

  27. Comment says

    McCain’s Iraq strategy = Borrow money from China so as to afford to send troops to Iraq so as to guard China’s oil supply.

    That’s it – We’ll try to stop talking about Tweety, but even yesterday he botched describing McCain’s position with Blankly on – Tweety said that if there’ no casualties in Iraq than what’s the problem about keeping in Iraq – That’s McCain’s point, ofcourse – Tweety didn’t get it, he thought it was all about if casualties occure – As if it didn’t matter that we just spend money we don’t have for zero benefit only to dishonestly claim to protect people who hate us.
    McCain’s position is politically plausible because many Americans don’t understand that we receive no benefit for all that money being spent – McCain is just caught up in antiquated issues of honor and credibility. In fact – England had a stronger reason to stay in Sudan that we do in Iraq.
    It’s impossible to see any benefit for us – Even Tweety faux dove doesn’t get that part .
    McCain is dangerous because his plan is plausible – He’ll bring us to our knees in debt and he’ll just put off the Churchill Option – ie getting the f*** out of there!

  28. Comment says

    Do you recall Bush 41 campaigning on the idea (92) that he wanted to build US into an export superpower? Yet, he was giving his trade negotiators contrary instruction that only facilitatted the export of jobs. Then Clinton comes in and plays on America’s false image of inherent dominance and he tells the people to support Chinese entry into WTO because that will allow America to export stuff to them. NAFTA aside – Clinton knew that Chinese people had less purchasing power than all of Arkansas at that time and the real export would be factories and jobs.

    This has been going on for so long – it has become as tiresome as politicians promising absurd educational progress (‘In ten years I want DC schools to beat Japan in math scores …’)

    It’s too bad Buchanan loads his critique with nativism and prejudice, because he had some good points in his “Republic” book – He feature treasonous (to the ears of the ‘folks’) sounding quotes from corporate chieftans that were amazing. The Gephardt Democrats were always compomised by their own blinkered middlebrow nostrums and their weak leadership (Gephardt is now taking Turkish money in exchange for denying the Armenians genocide – how’s that for a trade deal?).

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