Posts Tagged ‘Vietnam War’

Of Donald Trump’s Rabidly Stupid Remarks And His Pig-headed Determination To Stand By Them

July 20, 2015

Let me just begin by prefacing thus: there are a LOT of reasons to attack John McCain.  For simple starters he’s a RHINO – which for politically illiterate is an acronym meaning “Republican In Name Only” – who has made a career out of splitting the difference by betraying conservatives.  I voted for him in the general election, because my alternative was a backstabber or the damned devil, but no way was that turd my primary vote.

So there are a LOT of ways that a reasonable person could reasonably attack John McCain.  Heck, one of those ways involves the very category of “prisoner of war” that Donald Trump attacked McCain on.  Certainly Trump had every right to go after John McCain for saying that 15,000 American citizens living in McCain’s own state of Arizona were “crazies.”

But for the official record the way that Donald Trump viciously attacked John McCain simply for BEING a prisoner of war is beneath the pale of decency or dignity.  And Donald Trump seriously needs to be fired by every decent American for his stupid idiotic indecency.

Donald Trump said the following about John McCain:

Luntz: “He’s a war hero. He’s a war hero …”

Trump: “He’s not a war hero …”

Luntz: “He’s war hero.”

Trump: “He is a war hero …”

Luntz: “Five and half years in a Vietnamese prison camp …”

Trump: “He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured. So he’s a war hero …”

Luntz: “Do you agree with that?”

Trump: “He’s a war hero, because he was captured, okay? I believe, perhaps, he’s a war hero. But right now he said some very bad things about a lot of people. So what I said is John McCain, I disagree with him that these people aren’t crazy.”

Okay, Trump had his say.  But here is something called the ACTUAL DAMN FACTS as to how John McCain became a P.O.W.:

On October 26, 1967, McCain was flying his twenty-third mission, part of a twenty-plane strike force against the Yen Phu thermal power plant in central Hanoi[102][103] that previously had almost always been off-limits to U.S. raids due to the possibility of collateral damage.[101] Arriving just before noon, McCain dove from 9,000 to 4,000 feet on his approach;[104] as he neared the target, warning systems in McCain’s A-4E Skyhawk alerted him that he was being tracked by enemy fire-control radar.[105] Like other U.S. pilots in similar situations, he did not break off the bombing run,[62] and he held his dive until he released his bombs at about 3,500 feet (1,000 m).[106] As he started to pull up, the Skyhawk’s wing was blown off by a Soviet-made SA-2 anti-aircraft missile fired by the North Vietnamese Air Defense Command’s 61st Battalion,[101][104] commanded by Captain Nguyen Lan[104] and with fire control officer Lieutenant Nguyen Xuan Dai.[101][104] (McCain was later awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for this day,[100] while Nguyen Xuan Dai was awarded the title Hero of the People’s Armed Forces.[101] Decades later, Soviet Army Lieutenant Yuri Trushechkin claimed that he had been the missile guidance officer who had shot McCain down.[107][108] In any case, the raid was a failure, as the power plant was not damaged and three of the Navy planes were shot down.[104])

McCain being pulled out of Trúc Bạch Lake in Hanoi and about to become a prisoner of war,[109] on October 26, 1967.

McCain’s plane went into a vertical inverted spin.[110] Bailing out upside down at high speed,[111] the force of the ejection fractured McCain’s right arm in three places, his left arm, and his right leg at the knee, and knocked him unconscious.[111][112] McCain nearly drowned after parachuting into Trúc Bạch Lake in Hanoi; the weight of his equipment was pulling him down, and as he regained consciousness, he could not use his arms.[105] Eventually, he was able to inflate his life vest using his teeth.[105] Several Vietnamese, possibly led by Department of Industry clerk Mai Van On, pulled him ashore.[113] A mob gathered around, spat on him, kicked him, and stripped him of his clothes; his left shoulder was crushed with the butt of a rifle and he was bayoneted in his left foot and abdominal area.[105][111][112] He was then transported to Hanoi’s main Hỏa Lò Prison, nicknamed the “Hanoi Hilton” by American POWs.[114]

McCain reached Hoa Lo in as bad a physical condition as any prisoner during the war.[114] His captors refused to give him medical care unless he gave them military information; they beat and interrogated him, but McCain only offered his name, rank, serial number, and date of birth[115][116] (the only information he was required to provide under the Geneva Conventions and permitted to give under the U.S. Code of Conduct).[104] Soon thinking he was near death, McCain said he would give them more information if taken to the hospital,[115] hoping he could then put his interrogators off once he was treated.[117] A prison doctor came and said it was too late, as McCain was about to die anyway.[115] Only when the North Vietnamese discovered that his father was a top admiral did they give him medical care,[115] calling him “the crown prince”.[114] Two days after McCain’s plane went down, that event and his status as a POW made the front pages of The New York Times[92] and The Washington Post.[118] Interrogation and beatings resumed in the hospital; McCain gave the North Vietnamese his ship’s name, squadron’s name, and the attack’s intended target.[119] This information, along with personal details of McCain’s life and purported statements by McCain about the war’s progress, would appear over the next two weeks in the North Vietnamese official newspaper Nhân Dân[104] as well as in dispatches from outlets such as the Cuban news agency Prensa Latina.[120] Disclosing the military information was in violation of the Code of Conduct, which McCain later wrote he regretted, although he saw the information as being of no practical use to the North Vietnamese.[121] Further coerced to give future targets, he named cities that had already been bombed, and responding to demands for the names of his squadron’s members, he supplied instead the names of the Green Bay Packersoffensive line.[119][122]

It’s not like John McCain did a Bowe Bergdahl and abandoned his fellow soldiers to seek out and subsequently provide aid and comfort to the enemy.  John McCain is a combat veteran who had honorably served his country in time of war in 22 previous missions before being shot out of the sky, terribly wounded, and pulled out of a lake where he nearly drowned.  He was easily taken prisoner because his arms were too injured to move and one of his legs was useless.  The obvious implication is “JUST WHAT THE HELL WAS THE GUY SUPPOSED TO DO?”

Let me ask some follow-up questions of Donald Trump:

1) Are you seriously telling me that you possessed – in spite of your own lies about dodging the draft and your five damned deferments – that you possessed far superior fighter jet aviator training such that there is no way you could have ever possibly been shot down out of the sky by an anti-aircraft missile?  Is that your story, The Donald?  That had it been YOU in that cockpit the man who repeatedly obtained deferral after deferall rather than serve in the war that you insinuated John McCain was some kind of coward for having actually FOUGHT in you would have used your superior hair weave to duck and dodge the missiles that took McCain’s aircraft out???  Because you are Trump the CHUMP if that’s your testimony, you worthless boastful punk.

2) Is it your suggestion that John McCain would have been braver had he done what YOU would have done – because YOU’RE the one who dodged fighting in a war with your superior skills in compiling an impressive number of student deferments – and by simply refusing to serve in the first place???  Is THAT what you’re saying?  That cowardice is the better part compared to valor???  Are you saying that at the first sign that you were being tracked by enemy radar, that you would have bailed on your mission as John McCain failed to do because unlike you he actually IS a war hero???

3) Or maybe you’re suggesting to us that had it been YOU that had been shot down by a missile, had it been YOU who were shot down “in as bad physical condition as any prisoner during the war” – that you would have tied your ridiculously expensive business-suit’s accompanying necktie around your head like the businessman-version of Rambo and killed 10,000 North Vietnamese with your bare hands as you crawled your way to the border on your ruined knee???  Maybe THAT is what you’re saying, you pathetic little turd???

But actually I think what Donald Trump is really telling us is that 4) Trump the Chump looks at Adolf Hitler and says, “Now there is one awesome badass great LEADER!”  Allow me to provide illustrations of what I mean before I explain myself further:

Regarding Adolf Hitler: the Führer had a nasty habit of giving orders to his soldiers such that “Every man shall fight or fall where he stands.”  He REPEATDLY ordered his units to die fighting rather than surrender or even merely withdrawal rather than be overrun.  As one US military analysis of Hitler’s “leadership” we have the following typical statement (see page 22):

Hitler’s unrelenting policy of no retreat at Stalingrad cost thousands of German soldiers’ lives. According to James Duffy, “It was a policy of fanatical resistance. On October 14, 1942, Hitler issued this order to his troops: ‘Every leader, down to squad leader must be convinced of his sacred duty to stand fast come what may even if the enemy outflanks him on the right and left, even if his part of the line is cut off, encircled, overrun by tanks, enveloped in smoke or gassed.’”

One of Hitler’s own generals said of his “leadership”:

And there were, for Hitler the commander, some deeper flaws as German Field Marshal Erich von Manstein observed: “He was a man who saw fighting only in terms of the utmost brutality. His way of thinking conformed more to a mental picture of masses of the enemy bleeding to death before our lines than to the conception of a subtle fencer who knows how to make an occasional step backwards in order to lunge for the decisive thrust. For the art of war he substituted a brutal force which, as he saw it, was guaranteed maximum effectiveness by the will-power behind it…. Despite the pains Hitler took to stress his own former status as a frontline soldier, I still never had the feeling that his heart belonged to the fighting troops. Losses, as far as he was concerned, were merely figures which reduced fighting power. They are unlikely to have seriously disturbed him as a human being.”

Another German general, Alfred Jodl, described “Hitler’s almost mystical conviction of his own infallibility as leader of the nation and of the war.”  Which I personally see fitting Donald Trump to a “T” when you listen to Trump’s idiotic and fanciful statements that he’d build a border wall and make Mexico pay for it or from a position of weakness and debtor (WE owe THEM trillions of dollars) somehow end up owning them because of course he’s just that darn great.

And just before he shot himself to death like a coward rather than actually die fighting the way he had ordered millions of his own men to do, Hitler decreed:

‘The armed forces have lied to me and now the SS has left me in the lurch. The German people has not fought heroically. It deserves to perish.

‘It is not I who have lost the war, but the German people’.”

So under a Hitler – and yeah, under a Trump the Chump – you pretty much have two choices as a soldier: die fighting or just die.  Otherwise you’re a coward.

Now, Hitler said he couldn’t fight because he might get merely wounded instead of killed and then be captured:

“He said that he could not go out and die fighting on the barricades as he was afraid of merely being wounded and captured by the Russians. He would therefore shoot himself.”

And we couldn’t have that, could we?  So he ordered his men to die rather than give one inch of ground while he himself cowered in the concrete bunker that the millions serving him were ordered to die to protect.  And then there’s Trump the Chump, who in spite of his four student deferments before finally managing to find some doctor who was willing to say that Trump was too much of a pathetic little physical wuss to serve, that somehow John McCain should have died fighting in spite of having just sustained terrible wounds after being shot out of the sky by a missile.

I think it’s 4), myself.  Not that the other three make Trump look like anything other than an outright idiot, but personally I find 4) the most terrifying indictment of Trump the Chump of all of the above.

Under a Trump the Chump Führer-in-chieftainship, if President Trump the Chump orders a fascist-style banzai charge, you run into machine gun fire screaming and you die.  But what you are NOT allowed to do under ANY circumstances possible is to allow yourself to be captured for any reason under the Rising Sun.

In the aforementioned Imperial fascist Rising Sun mentality, we have soldiers that a President Trump the Chump could approve of:

LAURENCE REES: And how can we understand the reasons for what you call the ‘suicidal mentality’ of the Japanese?

AKIRA IRIYE: Some people trace it back all the way to the feudal ethos. I think it seems to be a combination of two things. One is belief in Japanese national uniqueness, again this is an insular mentality, summed up in the sense that Japan is a unique country unlike any other country that can do things that no other country can do, and things like that. And this sense of uniqueness is combined with the Emperor worship. Again this is rather a recent origin: in the 1870s and 1880s the government decided to rally national opinion around the image of the Sacred Emperor, because this Emperor system seemed to be a long living line of Emperors; that is the longevity of the imperial line. Japan was unique and you died for your country but in fact you died for your Emperor, everything was in the name of the Emperor.  In war, in battle, [soldiers] fought for the sake of honouring the Emperor, that kind of thing. That is one, mental attitude.

And the second reason is a more material kind of reason. That is that the Japanese army is much more poorly equipped. So the Japanese say, well, maybe we’re not as good in producing so many weapons as the Americans, but we have this spiritual aspect to it, that we can fight not simply with guns, but we can fight with our spirit. That spirit is the spirit of our selflessness and this is nothing that is part of your fighting. You know this famous exhortation not to be taken prisoner of war because they say to be taken prisoner of war is a shameful thing. Why? Because it shows that you have not fought till the very end. To fight to the very end is to honour the Emperor and to show that you can compensate for meagre weapons by using yourself, perhaps as a human shield, or in a suicide attack.

For these reasons I think even as early as the Russian/Japanese War you get lots of Japanese casualties because they believe in it, that death in battle is an honourable thing. I would think that there were so few Japanese prisoners of war taken by the Russians because they either committed suicide or they just fought to the very end before the Russians could capture them. The same is true in the 1930’s as well. I think you brought dishonour to your family and to your parents if you were caught prisoner during the war, so for these reasons I think there is a sense that the war is never finished until the last man dies. And the last man dies because that’s what they’re supposed to do.

LAURENCE REES: How can we understand here in the West this phenomenal cultural pressure on the individual to conform?

AKIRA IRIYE: I think there is no question about that. I think a kind of collective mentality, or collectivist mentality, and also the idea that you are a member of this family, and what you do brings dishonour to your parents, but not only that, to the Emperor too. This is the whole idea of the nation as one family with the Emperor as the Divine Head. So whatever you do you are bringing either honour or dishonour to the Emperor. There’s nothing in between. So to die is more honourable than to live. I think the conception of life and death, things like that, are maybe at the basis of this. No individual thinking here. Of course there were people who were not that way, but they would not be able to express their opinion more clearly or more frankly during the war because of the mentality of wartime Japan.

Under the Western and American concept of warfare, you are ordered to place yourself at risk.  You are ordered into harm’s way.  You are ordered to fight the enemy.  But in the face of certain death, you are NOT required to die.  Americans are individuals, not herd animals.  You fight honorably, but you have the right to surrender when you have no other option but certain death.

But Trump the Chump’s remark which was tantamount to an assertion that every single prisoner of war was somehow a failure has nothing whatsoever to do with the Western or American concept of a soldier honorably serving on a field of battle; it is straight out of Hitler and it is straight out of Imperial Japanese fascist emperor-worship.

So under Emperor Trump, you die fighting for the glory and honor of “The Donald.”  A Trump the Chump cannot understand why you would not be willing to take a few hundred bullets for him.

To allow a Donald Trump to be anywhere NEAR the office of the president of the United States is simply evil.  We fought a terrible war to kick people like Donald Trump out of their dictatorships.

And the man is so pig-headed that he cannot admit that he made a mistake any more than the CURRENT DISGRACE-IN-CHIEF contaminating our White House.

Allow me to now point out that this isn’t the first incredibly wrong thing that Donald Trump has said.  What Donald Trump said about illegal immigrants was beneath the pale of dignity, as well.

Understand, I am fiercely opposed to illegal immigration.  I believe that we should be fighting with everything we’ve got to dismantle a system whereby people are encouraged to essentially put themselves at the head of the line ahead of all the people trying to enter America from all around the world LEGALLY by ignoring our laws and just flooding into this country.  BUT my beef is NOT with the people coming into America, but with ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION.  Whereas Trump the Chump personally demonized the character of pretty much nearly ALL illegal immigrants.

Allow me to contrast my own belief about illegal immigrants vis-à-vis the system tolerating and even encouraging illegal immigration from a prior article to Donald Trump’s vindictive statements:

Let me assure you of something: if Hispanic illegal immigrants voted Republican, you would see the rabid, poison-dripping FANGS of Democrats come out in a spirit of rage and hate unlike nothing you’ve ever seen on the faces of Republicans as they went completely poop-flinging nuts over the invasion of our border.

I attend a church that has an English and Hispanic congregation.  And I regularly take part in ministry to Hispanics, quite a few of which are here illegally.  As a true Christian, I DON’T hate illegal immigrants.  I realize as a moral human being that if I were a poor Mexican or Central American living in a completely failed state the way these people are, I would come to America too – either legally or illegally.  I recognize that for many illegal immigrants, work is a good thing that they are grateful for.  And that they send a lot of the money they earn home to their families.  These are virtuous things.  What I rabidly despise is a cynical and dishonest liberal ideology that wants to politically benefit from these poor people’s misery and ignorance.  I blame the left for its hostility to America as they seek to cynically grab further political advantages by exploiting these people.  Liberals are like drunken braggarts in a bar, buying drinks for everyone in order to be popular and then refusing to pay the tab when the bill comes.  America cannot afford to continue living so wildly and wickedly beyond our means.  We are going to completely economically and socially collapse because of the vile wickedness of Democrats.  And then you will see suffering as you have never seen before – suffering that Democrats forced upon the America that they destroyed.

I believe, therefore, that we ought to treat the illegal immigrants who are coming here as human beings.  And that we should protect our nation, protect our borders, protect our culture, protect our way of life by controlling our borders and enforcing our laws.

You see the difference?  I recognize that many, MANY illegal immigrants are good and decent people whose ultimate crime is to give themselves and their families a better life than they could ever get in the pathologically broken system that is Mexico and much of Central America.  Are there terrible criminal illegal immigrants?  Okay, yes.  But on the same token, are there terrible criminal LEGAL immigrants?  Yep.  And for that matter, are there terrible criminal native-born American CITIZENS?  Oh, you betcha, there are.

My theory on illegal immigration is that we need to profoundly reform our SYSTEM.  We need to begin by first changing the law that BROKE our system: the 1965 law that “reformed” our system that had previously favored immigrants with vital job skills that this nation desperately needed in order to maintain the best industrial base in the world to one whose central purpose was reuniting families.  Should we have a system that emphasizes more doctors, more engineers, more mechanics, more skilled workers, more trained people who can help build America, or should we bring in every single family member of the immigrants who are already here?  Democrats broke our system by preferring the latter over the former.  And that inaugurated a flood of immigration that has NOT made America better, but worse, not richer, but poorer.  We certainly also need to aggressively patrol our borders and deport the people who should not be here.

But we shouldn’t demonize the millions of people who came here seeking a better life.  And I believe that if I were a Mexican and my country was broken the way Mexico was broken and America gave me a chance for building a better life for my family, I would come here to.  And no I would NOT be a “rapist” for doing so, contrary to Trump the Chump.

As a conservative and as a Republican, I demand that we continue to make a distinction between being “anti-illegal immigration” versus being “anti-immigrant.”  And I believe Donald Trump stupidly crossed a line and should have apologized immediately rather than “doubling down” as is apparently the only trick of this one-trick pony.

If you exclude Donald Trump’s giving since 2012 – when he decided he was a “Republican,” Donald Trump has actually given more money to the DEMOCRAT Party over the previous 26 years.  Prior to 2012, Trump gave $581,350 to DEMOCRATS versus only $497,690 to the GOP.  But even when you factor in Trump’s total giving, the man hardly stands as a genuine Republican.  Politifact acknowledges that “Trump has actually been relatively evenhanded in doling out cash to the two parties” and that “The difference in donations is almost entirely captured in Trump’s recent giving” when Trump went from 1989 to 2012 giving MORE to Democrats to giving $463,450 to Republicans against $3,500 to Democrats.  Personally, I would just assume that my Republican president hadn’t only been one for three years and had been a Democrat prior to that.

The man clearly is NO spokesman for the Republican Party or Republican Party values.  And as just one shining example of the hypocritical and opportunistic demagogue that Trump the Chump truly is, he actually attacked Mitt Romney’s very moderate position on illegal immigration as “mean-spirited” in 2012.  Which may mean that while he isn’t the racist he’s coming off as being, what he in fact is is a dishonest demagogue who will say whatever the hell will get him the attention that this arrogant blowhard narcissist clearly seems to need.

Donald Trump needs to be made to shut up and go away.  And yes, anybody who actually thinks that this fool ought to be president IS certainly a “crazy” from this point on, if he or she wasn’t one already.

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Why We Should Be Seriously Contemplating The Great Depression

December 3, 2008

Revelation 6:6 – “And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.”

There are plenty of financial experts out there assuring us that any comparison between our current economic situation and the Great Depression are utterly baseless.  The problem is that most of these experts are either demonstrated hypocrites who have themselves compared our economy to the Great Depression, or they are employing extremely flawed logic in their dismissals that may well even cross the line into outright deception.

Nathan Burchfiel takes CNBC‘s Jim Cramer to task for the sort of blatant hypocrisy that we’ve seen from all to many other media analysts:

CNBC “Mad Money” host Jim Cramer said on NBC’s “Today” show Dec. 2 that comparisons between the current economy and the Great Depression are “scare tactics.” Maybe he forgot about his own reliance on the juxtaposition….

But Cramer has been among the most vocal scaremongers when it comes to throwing around Great Depression warnings.


Criticizing economists who opposed the $700 billion taxpayer bailout of the financial industry on the “Today” show Oct. 1, Cramer warned the country was “on the precipice of Great Depression II.”

He made a similar claim about the financial bailout in September, arguing that if Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson didn’t find a way to get a rescue package passed, “we are going to have The Great Depression II on our hands.”


On Nov. 11, Cramer supported another proposed bailout – this time for the U.S. auto industry by saying it would prevent another depression. “It’s like look – we got to bail them out,” Cramer told CNBC “Street Signs” host Erin Burnett. “We have to. We have to keep the Great Depression off the table.”

In other words, the “Great Depression” basically becomes a shell game, where you see the shell when the shysters want you to look at it, and then you don’t see the shell when they want to keep it out of sight.  It’s a bogeyman that some journalist, or some academic, or some government official can trot out to frighten us into doing what s/he wants to advance an agenda, and then put it away until they want to frighten us again.

Now, there was a time when a story like this one would have completely discredited a media personality such as Jim Cramer.  But in these Bizarro World days, being discredited seems to be to a journalist’s career what having a tawdry sexual affair does to a movie star’s career.

Then we’ve got the philosophical dismissal of any comparison to the Great Depression, as exemplified by government academics such as Ben Bernanke:

WASHINGTON (AFP) — Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke said Monday the current economic situation bears “no comparison” to the much deeper crisis of the 1930s Great Depression.

“Well, you hear a lot of loose talk, but let me just … say, as a scholar of the Great Depression — and I’ve written books about the Depression and been very interested in this since I was in graduate school, there’s no comparison,” Bernanke said in a question period after an address in Austin, Texas.

Bernanke cited “an order-of-magnitude difference” in the current situation compared to the 1930s.

“During the 1930s, there was a worldwide depression that lasted for about 12 years and was only ended by a world war,” he said.

“During that time, the unemployment rate went to 25 percent, at least, based on the data that we have. The real GDP (gross domestic product) fell by one-third. About a third of all of the banks failed. The stock market fell 90 percent.”

Bernanke said the situation at that time represented “very difficult circumstances,” because “we didn’t have the social safety net that we have today. So let’s put that out of our minds; there’s no — there’s comparison in terms of severity.”

Well, first of all the fact is that Bernanke – just like Cramer – has himself made the comparison between our economy and the Great Depression, as the bottom of the same article clearly demonstrates:

In a related matter, President George W. Bush said in an interview released Monday that Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson warned him weeks ago that bold action was needed to avert a new Great Depression.

“I can remember sitting in the Roosevelt Room with Hank Paulson and Ben Bernanke and others, and they said to me that if we don’t act boldly, Mr. President, we could be in a depression greater than the Great Depression,” Bush told ABC News.

Which clearly means that comparisons to the Great Depression clearly aren’t so silly after all – as evidenced by the very people who are most loudly telling us that such a comparison is silly.

Bernanke and others also imply that our social support structures and our financial expertise would prevent the worst effects of any so-called “Great Depression.”  But is that really so?

When the $852 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) suddenly morphed into what one writer mocked as Capital Redistributed As Pork (CRAP), shouldn’t it bother you that an abandonment of such an enormous program’s expressed goal midstream amounts to a de facto declaration that our experts clearly don’t know for sure what they’re doing?

The notion that a Great Depression could never happen because we know so much more doesn’t hold much water for me in the light of our “Keystone Cops-approach” to all of our various bailouts and attempts at political legislation.  The fact is, after seeing our “experts” at work the last couple months, I have less confidence in them than I’ve ever had before.

But there’s another giant problem with Bernanke’s analysis, and it is difficult to imagine that he doesn’t himself recognize it.  The problem is that he’s comparing apples to oranges; he’s comparing an economy that may well be on the throes of a future Great Depression to a 1930s economy that was already well into the worst stages of a depression.  And he’s pointing out the obvious – but in fact completely irrelevant and actually completely absurd – fact that they don’t look alike.  Of course they don’t look alike – yet.

But what would have happened had Bernanke compared the economy as it was in 1929 with our economy today, rather than the worst period of the 1930s?  What would have happened had he looked at the economy just before the Black Tuesday crash of October 29, 1929, or even shortly after that crash?  The numbers would have hardly appeared anywhere near so dire, which means Bernanks’ comparison would have failed.

Let me quote Wikipedia to show you what I mean:

The Great Depression was not triggered by a sudden, total collapse in the stock market. The stock market turned upward in early 1930, returning to early 1929 levels by April, though still almost 30 percent below the peak of September 1929.[7] Together, government and business actually spent more in the first half of 1930 than in the corresponding period of the previous year. But consumers, many of whom had suffered severe losses in the stock market the previous year, cut back their expenditures by ten percent, and a severe drought ravaged the agricultural heartland of the USA beginning in the summer of 1930.

In early 1930, credit was ample and available at low rates, but people were reluctant to add new debt by borrowing. By May 1930, auto sales had declined to below the levels of 1928. Prices in general began to decline, but wages held steady in 1930, then began to drop in 1931. Conditions were worst in farming areas, where commodity prices plunged, and in mining and logging areas, where unemployment was high and there were few other jobs. The decline in the American economy was the factor that pulled down most other countries at first, then internal weaknesses or strengths in each country made conditions worse or better. Frantic attempts to shore up the economies of individual nations through protectionist policies, such as the 1930 U.S. Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act and retaliatory tariffs in other countries, exacerbated the collapse in global trade. By late in 1930, a steady decline set in which reached bottom by March 1933.

Keep in mind that OUR stock market began to tank only a little over two months ago.  And if the exact same thing were to happen now that it did to the United States in the 1930s, we actually would expect our market to pick up significantly in the coming months – and our economy to even appear to be rebounding – shortly before a downward slope into collapse that would occur one to three years later.  It wasn’t until March 1933 – 3 years and 4 months after the Black Tuesday stock market crash – that the bottom really fell out of our economy.

And while “Great Depression” comparisons may be silly in terms of the actual economic numbers RIGHT NOW (the number of banks going under, the jobless rate, etc.), we actually face potential economic nuclear bombs that would very likely have made 1930s American financial experts faint with dread.

We are looking at $700 TRILLION in derivatives.  Compare this stupefying fact to the associated fact that global GDP is only about a lousy $50 trillion! Assets have been leveraged as much as a hundred and even two-hundredfold.  The Institute for Economic Democracy have an article titled, “Hedging and Derivative Risks Become Infinite Risks.”  The result is MASSIVE exposure such as the world has never seen lurking like some incredibly deadly plague in the form of financial vehicles that few even begin to understand and only advanced computers can calculate.  As these highly leveraged financial obligations result in losses – as has already begun to happen – the result is cataclysmic failure in financial markets beyond the power of any government to prevent.  And anyone but a fool should be able to recognize by now that such disasters can send the entire global economy crashing down very quickly, seemingly from out of nowhere.

None of the bailouts have done ANYTHING to fix the systemic structural problems with our financial system (the worst probably being the massive flow of capital out of production and into speculative markets due to the shift from being a manufacturing-based economy to a service-based economy).  And the fact that the $852 billion bailout package went from being used to buy bad mortgages to a completely different solution should kind of serve to tell you that no one really knows WHAT to do.

So our financial experts are throwing out our money the way out-of-control craps players throw dice.

ABC News had this:

The government’s financial bailout will be the most expensive single expenditure in American history, potentially costing around $7.5 trillion — or half the value of all the goods and services produced in the United States last year.

In comparison, the total U.S. cost of World War II adjusted for inflation was $3.6 trillion. The bailout will cost more than the total combined costs in today’s dollars of the Marshall Plan, the Louisiana Purchase, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the entire historical budget of NASA, including the moon landing, according to data compiled by Bianco Research.

It remains to be seen whether the government’s multipronged approach to bail out banks, stimulate spending and buy up mortgages will revive the economy, but as the tab continues to grow so does concern over where the government will find the money.

One critical thing to understand is that the aforementioned historic massive expenditures – which combined still only amount to half of the expenditure we are talking about today – took place over many decades, such that the various costs to the economy were absorbed over many years.  What happens when we spend trillions of dollars in only a few months?  Who knows?  No one has ever tried it before! And unlike the what had been the greatest – now the second greatest – expenditure in history, the costs associated with World War II were spent producing, building, and developing, whereas frankly most of the costs associated with our current bailouts essentially amount to paying off Wall Street’s gambling debts.

Meanwhile – as we contemplate forking over still more billions to bail out our automakers – we need to realize that we’re entering a potentially insane realm where there’s simply no end to the companies and now even the states who are “too big to fail” and need bailouts of their own.  And what of the moral hazard incurred by giving money to people, corporations, and states simply because they were the biggest fools and failures?  What impact will this have not only on the economy, but on the hearts and minds of honest people who played by the rules and ended up with nothing to show for it while the failures and the gamblers walk away with money in their pockets?  How many previously stable people will begin to angrily demand, “Where’s my bailout?”

What’s going to happen as our financial system attempts to absorb absolutely mind boggling government debts that dwarf anything ever before seen in human history?

A lot of financial experts aren’t so much anxious about what happens in the next few months.  We might well be able to throw so much money at the economy that we can stimulate it again; rather, they are worried about 3-5 years down the road as our dollar devalues dramatically due to interest payments that can only be repaid by printing more and more money.  You don’t just double an already insanely-out-of-control national debt without severe consequences.

And given the very real probability that massive spending is going to be the cause of our undoing, the social safety net that Bernanke refers to as being a preventative would actually merely be one more causative factor in a pending economic collapse.  We won’t be able to hand out food stamps and welfare checks if our government itself goes bankrupt.

So while it’s obviously not accurate to describe our present situation as a “Great Depression,” the simple reality is that we might well – and in the very near future – experience an economic meltdown that would likely make the Great Depression look tame in comparison.