Monday, September 6, 2010

A Princeton Poet Speaks

I am pleased to share a poem written by a man who lives near Princeton, James Heffern, but apparently the nonsense that passes for economics at the Ivy Tower has not affected him. (He is a bigger fan of Sarah Palin than I, but overall, his poem is pretty darn good.) Mr. Heffern in his own words:

“Dunciad,” which is written in the manner of Alexander Pope’s famous satire, describes all the figures in government, media, and academia who are colluding to make such economic misjudgments as we face possible. Mr. Heffern writes:
The poem has two attributes, I believe, you can relate to specially: 1) the most prominent dunce featured in the poem is Paul Krugman and 2) the economic principles I champion in the poem are derived from “Meltdown” which, I noticed, is on your favorites list.

You will also appreciate there is nothing in the poem about birth certificates, mosques, Afghanistan, oil spills, or other issues that pale in comparison to the economic challenges we are facing.

The poem is divided into six parts:

The invocation of the muse, the goddess Liberty

Obama’s primary race against Hillary Clinton

The general election: Obama v. John McCain

The Obama Presidency

A vision of Obama winning another term and its ensuing effects on the economy

A vision of Obama being checked in his bid for a second term.
The poem is long, but well-worth reading!


Sweet Liberty! Goddess! Attend my rhyme,

And steep my keyboard in a lucid clime.

Great the subject—the poet hardly fit

For whatever muse inspired Dada lit.

Tell how we’ve come to this pitiful pass.

Say who’s a fool and decry the odd ass.

Spare not the media, whom we berate

For fomenting anti-“teabagger” hate.

Denounce our pols through want of prudence curst

Since Bush the second reigned like Bush the first.

Now America’s in an ev’n greater bind

With Bushes three through six all in one combined.

     Obama’s his name and much to our grief

We hail him Barack—our wastrel-in-chief.

Born into honor, a babe without guile,

He first drew breath on a Sandwich Isle.

Yet no lack of myths attended his rise—

The mark of a man adept at disguise.

Eager to shape them he took to his pen

(So many bought it he did it again).

Now his polish and Harvard pedigree

Evoke the name of John F. Kennedy.

How strange that a man can inspire such lore

Five years removed from a state senator.

The one candidate whom no one would vet,

Now Midas reversed—his touch turns to debt.

Why mount a resistance—Liberty say;

And how we’ll defeat him—this is my lay.


From the beginning the crowds were raucous,

Forewarning us of the Iowa caucus

Where the Clintons were finally brought to heel

By farmers just up from their evening meal.

A third place showing had Hillary pissed;

(That’s one disaster Nostradamus missed).

The fourth estate in duplicitous bands

Slunk out of town with mud on their hands;

While a sober Barack refused to crow

With one state down and fifty-six to go.

     The frontrunner’s mantle became him well;

And resiliency, too, in case it fell.

The ever-faithful wife, taking a stand

To watch what she said with a mike in her hand.

Yet the campaign was still under attack;

A celestial vision bursting with flak.

Potshots at ACORN (not hard to indict);

The impious left and the Reverend Wright.

To base accusers Obama demurred,

And plumbed his past that his voice be heard.

Spoke in Philly; the Reverend Wright foremost;

The speech was butter but his grandma toast.

     Forth went Obama, momentum renewed;

Each rally a kind of beatitude,

‘Til Joe the Plumber took to his street,

And flyover country met radical chic.

Candor obtained; “Spread the wealth” was spoken;

Middle class support ne’r seemed so token.

But slips of the tongue make hardly a snag;

The socialist cat crawled back in its bag.

     Dialogue done, Barack did not linger;

(The common touch chafes a bitter clinger).

He now moved the chains like a black Dan Fouts

While Hillary struggled with three-and-outs.

When the Kennedy clan shorted her stock,

All but the feminists put her in hock.

The campaigns wound down—contracted in scope,

To who was the change and who was the hope.

The angel of hist’ry with wings unfurled

Gave both to Barack, and him to the world.

     To Invesco Field the nominee hied;

And unity spanned the Rockies’ divide.

Shouts of “Yes we can!” reached the cloud-capp’d heights,

And Bob the Builder surrendered the rights.

He spoke at length of effects and causes,

Barren of substance but pregnant with pauses,

Shadowed by columns remindful of Rome,

Ionic, I think, or perhaps just foam.

Earmarks, he said, he’d ax with defiance;

And pork that flouted Shari’ah compliance.

“Not by a dime will the deficit grow!”

(When Obama kids he puts on a show).

He’d harness the wind and exploit the sun;

Clean carbon from coal by the metric ton.

The cost of pollution would start to range

Like pork bellies do on Chicago’s exchange.

     Naked with hope, the people were ravished;

His vows of change unstintingly lavished.

A few more touches and “King!” they’d declare;

Like a pope, a crown, and St. Peter’s square.

From dread’s dark depths I glumly gazed my fill;

An ague caught for which there was no pill.


The desert crossed and Canaan near at hand,

November marked Obama’s promised land.

For his VEEP he chose a senator chum;

And Tweedle Smart was joined by Tweedle Dumb.

Up to their hero the press corps sidled;

Mouths agape and integrity bridled.

Women would challenge him, “What’s your beliefs?”

While secretly thinking, “Boxers or briefs?”

Among his disciples many were those

Who felt themselves raptured—but kept their clothes.

Hardball’s my favorite—who first bent the knee;

Now throws like a girl and bats from a tee.

Whom Barack, the healer, inspires like Lourdes;

While “teabaggers” code for “Scythian hordes”.

How tea parties fright him! Make him grow shrill;

As if Martians returned to Grovers Mill.

“Monochromatic?”—sounds kind of fudgy.

Perhaps he means, “pasty, blonde, and pudgy”.

Rush, he believes, is a beetle-browed brute;

Not happy he’s deaf, he’d prefer him mute.

But why belabor his take on the news?

He preaches his gospel to empty pews.

Gone is the glory of SNL fame;

His ego trots on while the show pulls up lame.

     Thus was Obama girded for battle,

His army of soldiers lethal in prattle.

They claimed by Heav’n was victory foretold;

And in the millions that Gallup polled.

Pitted against their quixotic campaign:

The perennial maverick, John McCain.

Years in captivity turned his mind inward;

Thence to labor in Washington’s vineyard.

Meshed with his base like a ram and a thicket

Keeping Joe Lieberman off the ticket.

Instead chose Alaska’s comeliest catch;

A curvaceous version of Orrin Hatch;

Creating a duo hard to upstage,

Except by our most grandiloquent sage;

Inasmuch as Obama’s legacy strives

For the face of Mount Rushmore or Plutarch’s Lives.

     Portents were grim as autumn impended;

More than the Yankees were being upended.

Impregnable icons of Wall Street banks

Saw balance sheets blow and level their ranks.

Billions of dollars in outstanding dues

From bad SIV’s to worse IOU’s,

Incautiously bundled, dispersed, and resold

In schemes that Ponzi would blush to behold.

Discomfited experts boasted a first:

Th’ unpoppable bubble—housing—had burst.

So many foreclosures, so many liens;

So much for the theories of John Maynard Keynes.

     Yet could the phoenix still rise from the ash

If only Treasury would cough up the cash,

And explode, at last, the laughable myth

That we heed the precepts of Adam Smith,

Whose laissez-faire guide to wealth creation

The Fed subverts to our ruination.

For how free is Smith’s invisible hand

When joined at the wrist to Alan Greenspan?

Called “the Maestro” for the wand that he waved

(That created credit from nothing saved)

At the game of golf he liked to piddle,

And the markets knobs he liked to twiddle,

Performing the tasks of finance’s hub

Like Jean Paul Marat, immersed in his tub;

Just a pen and notepad keeping at bay

The threat of a downturn or Charlotte Corday.

Home price inflation, the low interest loan—

From each he made a philosopher’s stone

That removed from risk the specter of fear

And made flipping houses a new career.

Should skeptical investors doubts betray,

Tides of liquidity swept them away;

More dubious critics he urged to reflect

That markets, like golf balls, can self-correct.

     With a lovely wife in whom he confided,

(His better half but twice as misguided),

He seemed the exemplar of “brain” and “trust”

By taming the cycle of boom and bust.

Adieu to all that…the Maestro’s wits

Proved more inclining to misses than hits.

Haled before Congress, the wherefores to broach,

(Like a losing team berating its coach)

He implied an excuse, only too true:

“I did what the nation wanted me to.”

     Now he’s retired; if his house were bugged,

You’d hear Andrea reading him “Atlas Shrugged”

Compelling the kind of retrospective

That unites the soul with its collective,

Whence theories once boasting the power to save

Now flicker like shadows in Plato’s cave.

     While Wall Street titans the public reviled,

On Team Obama Providence smiled.

“Communist!” “Radical!”—every canard

First fizzled, then died like a dud petard.

Independents woo’d, succumbed to his sway

And hedge fund donations all broke his way.

Secure, Barack, watched the White House kindle

A still unextinguished epic swindle,

Fiendishly finagled by “those who have”,

From Wall Street to K Street to Pennsy Ave.

Enter Paulson, whose unflappable calm

Belied obeisance to the outstretched palm.

With Lehman’s collapse he posed our peril

Hinged on the hopes of Goldman and Merrill.

He distilled this poison in Bush’s ear

With grave threats inaction would cost us dear.

Sorely miscast for the crisis at hand,

Bush little distinguished request from demand.

Sword of Damocles! It twisted his view.

What—save for his necktie—wasn’t askew?

Goaded by Treasury, beset by attacks,

He sought terms from the board of Goldman Sachs.

Down dropped the veil over backroom high jinx,

That made Teapot Dome look like tiddly winks.

TARP was conceived; deception redoubled;

“Toxic” and “Worthless” were now termed “Troubled”.

Against such connivance nothing availed;

(The House balked once, but Pelosi prevailed).

Like an infection lanced, discharging pus,

Now the banks were making a run on us.

     McCain did much to enhance the drama:

Suspend his campaign—rattle Obama.

It did not work, nor his own maverick bent.

His came, and saw, and without ado went.

The people perplexed—to whom could they sue?—

Chid the old soldier with a sad “et tu?”

Now could Obama post up in the paint,

Trash-talk the bailout, vote “aye” without taint;

Box out the taxpayer, flagrant foul Bush,

Split two defenders and dunk with a whoosh.

Both candidates voted; both were on board;

One triple-doubled; one fell on his sword.

     The rest of the race was academic:

Much more encomium than polemic.

Vict’ry’s garland now wove through the story

And Grant Park throngs but gilded the glory.

The millions exulting with heartfelt pride

Quite silenced the shouts of “Liberticide!”

Rahm, too, triumphed; it was no light duty

Making Wall Street’s wants yield so much booty.

He transformed unease and a latent fear

Into a beer hall putsch without the beer.

     Even now Hank Paulson evades disgrace,

And flings his subterfuge right in our face.

Ignorant of the incalculable harm

(No fires put out—just killed the alarm);

He justifies all in sincerest prose

For bamboozling us and Charlie Rose.


Touting a secular “fishes and loaves”

Bukharin is famous in Princeton’s groves.

A pedagogue he, imparting with grace

Untruths from a laureate’s weighty place.

On money, high finance, the public crib

He observes the rites of a faithful lib,

Fending off scorn, each Republican foe

By invoking aid from St. Delano.

     Duly invested with newsprint’s power

(Like bullhorn blasts from an ivory tower)

He harps on each of ninety-five theses

In minor, jejune opinion pieces,

Propagating the view that brands the Right

As bigots whom blacks unsettle with fright.

    At the entire South he wags his tongue

Like a mortarboard-wearing Neil Young.

How he rails!—at pay for corporate brass

To all their scions who sit in his class.

On Fed duplicity oft has he mused;

And come to the notion—he’s all confused.

     With friends at court and connections abroad,

He owns up to “liberal” and they applaud.

At Liberty’s expense Europe’s beguiled;

The gullible Swedes and Oslo go wild.

     The incarnation of Bukharin’s views,

Obama embarked on his shakedown cruise,

The seas as calm as the tidings were glad

‘Midst hopes that only his bowling was bad.

In ivied bowers Bukharin, aloof,

Beheld his ideas put to the proof:

Trillions and trillions in government debt

Blindly dispensed without hindrance or let.

Like testing Watson by watching a gene,

Or Einstein's eclipse in 1919,

The country in toto became his lab--

Cheap validation when we pay the tab.

     Once having seized our national treasure

(Money machines that print at his pleasure),

How quickly Obama did loot the land

(Though Scott Brown’s record will forever stand).

All he perpetrated I can distil

From the inaptly named "stimulus" bill.

Conceived in corruption, nurtured with hype,

All change aside--it reduced him to type.

Now was he cast in the big-spending mold

Reprising the thirties, new deals and old.

To all intents, the dollar’s new master

Inflating it to further disaster.

Congress and he machinated as much,

Like two beads of water that fuse when they touch.

Down came the vote like Jovian thunder,

Loosing Barabbases bent on plunder;

Some like pigs at a trillion dollar trough

Deaf to our pleas that enough is enough.

     Ill fares the land when promised reform

And graft this blatant becomes the new norm.

When public employees are forced to toil

Not at their jobs but dividing the spoil.

When Appropriations—stewards of our wealth,

In dispensing cash so exhausts itself

That Chairman Obey, put through his paces,

With lolling tongue breaks down in the traces,

All so cupidity’s deepening sway

Can lord it o’er the American way.

     Having baptized his rule in heaps of pelf,

Obama now turned to the nation’s health.

Catchy, new slogans he coined by the day,

Foremost among them, “Get out of my way.”

Specter he welcomed back into the fold,

Who found his prize calf not fatted but old.

Al Franken, too, to belated renown;

(All the Senate received was one more clown).

Reid and Pelosi, their wonted pallor,

Complimenting their feminine valor,

Became like a fortress—their roles would switch:

The one a rampart, the other a ditch.

All now ranged against Liberty’s standard;

Congress a cannon, POTUS a lanyard—

A never-surfeited lust for control

Exciting Dingell to give the word, “Pull!”

     Once on this course Obama decided,

Whom many trusted they now derided,

Suspecting his plea for the utmost speed

A specious pretext for power and greed.

As the health care bill gestated and grew

A cloud of unknowing grew with it, too.

It immersed information deep in dearth,

And pledges of openness stilled at birth.

If too much scrutiny threatened delay,

“Choice and competition!” Pelosi would bray.

Progressives echoed her, each errant knave

Provoking Orwell to roll in his grave.

     Under such auspices a bill did morph;

A giant in size, in savings a dwarf;

Taxes so high their scope was preempted

So Congress (the rogues!) would be exempted.

     Unemployment rates, meantime, looked amiss;

Millions of jobs lost attested to this.

Home starts fell at a rate that was steady;

Gibbs got his b.s. all shovel ready.

Recovery’s road he bedded and paved

With bogus statistics, created and saved.

     Even at Princeton conditions were stark

With endowment below the three billion mark.

The board of trustees said, “This cannot stand”

And scores of pink slips went out by their hand.

Fiscal restraint o’er “compassion” had won;

How different Obama is from Princeton!

     What of Bukharin? His hectoring zeal?

His silence now deafened the commonweal.

More for his rep the laureate trembled;

His all-knowing air appeared dissembled.

Like an old sophist who’d seen better days,

He sought to deny that he caused the malaise,

Lest his medallion embossed with Nobel

On e-Bay Art Sulzberger tried to sell.

     Working the numbers, a graph and table

He humored his fans with one more fable:

A claim that weighed in like a piece of fluff—

The stimulus bill wasn’t big enough!

More confirmation, as the maxim goes,

That quacks, like kings, can parade without clothes.

     Health care reform was losing its luster

Though sixty-vote vigils forbore filibuster.

Sleep was disdained and comforts forsaken

Into wee hours when key votes were taken.

Nor could defections threaten adoption,

Not states opting out of the opt-out option;

Congress rescinded the oaths it had sworn

And sacrilege sullied Christmas Eve morn.

Here words fail us—but oh! the duress—

“Twas the night before” mangled by Roland Burris!

     Yet, in a trice, would their plan unravel

Abrupt as Franken banging his gavel.

In Massachusetts where Democrats reign

A truck-driving gym rat can still get game.

Poised between parties Scott Brown had the sense

To say with conviction he’d straddle the fence;

Yet preach on the text (how Democrats seethed!)

That seats in the Senate can’t be bequeathed.

He and his rival went toe against toe;

And Coakley came too, but just for the show.

Grim looked Gergen—moderate, debater,

Archly condensed into “moderator”.

His weapons ranged from fork ball to splitter—

The stuff you’d expect to beat a switch hitter.

He graced the mound with impeccable style,

His unbloodied socks imported argyle;

Yet still felt threatened by the tactician

Whose lug could cow the suavest patrician.

When old indiscretions at last bore fruit,

Gergen saw Brown in his birthday suit,

A cake-of-beef sandwich served open-faced,

Samson’s own forearm strategically placed.

“This,” Gergen thought, “is too much exposure.”

Foot on the rubber, he lost his composure.

He hung a fat curve ball out o’er the plate,

Brown crushed it, his swing like a wind-whipped gate.

Both watched the ball disappear in the sky;

Brown morphed into Fiske and waved it goodbye.

     Just one new join in the Party of No

And health care returned to the status quo.

Obama shrunk from muscled Colossus

To bungler keen on cutting his losses.

Sad was the plaint of Progressive betrayed:

Bukharin, whose laptop would not be stayed.

Backbone buckling beneath the scrutiny,

He took to his blog, a one-man mutiny,

Proclaiming, “Obama is not The One!

He’s all Attila without the Hun!”

And frailty’s name was exposed as more

Than woman alone….Try famed professor.

     The White House, tested, made its next forum

A chance for POTUS to lack some decorum.

An amicus curiae brief of the sort

That asked in a huff who’s friends with the court.

The State of the Union, so oft a dud,

A wearisome bore for the couch-bound spud,

Would swing like a pendulum, loosed pell-mell

From wrath’s own angel, come out from its shell.

     Mantled in black, seated all in a row

Like ducks you plug at a carnival show,

The Supreme Court brooded like muses nine,

Enjoined by tradition to ride the pine.

Down from his dais, now like a pulpit,

Obama glared and fingered the culprit,

His words a kind of digital prodding

To chastise, chasten, and wake the nodding.

What a fat target to rip from on high;

It’s the State of the Union! Dare reply!

     He made his harangue, confusing the throng,

His oration so right, his facts all wrong.

For a year we’d been mouthing, “It’s simply not true.”

Now Justice Alito was mouthing it too.

The chamber rustled to murmurs, “How bold”,

While cringing, Judge Roberts thought, “Irksome scold!”

Hardball, impressed, had the passing figment

That somehow Barack had lost his pigment.

Whatever the case, the court shrugged it off,

Requiting rebuke with hardly a scoff.

Storing it up for future reference

Should next year’s speech also lack deference.

Forewarned how tactless Obama can be,

Forearmed they’ll come with shooters of pea.

     Now change was revealed in all its scope:

Taboo-busting boorishness tinged with hope.

It would stand Barack in excellent stead

As, gibbering, health care rose from the dead.

Against all advice the White House regrouped,

With new depths to plumb, new lows to be stooped.

It queried Congress, testing its temper

To see if its “fi” still had its “semper”.

More pledges exacted, no matter the price;

Unhappy the soldiers conscripted twice.

Obama, his capital nearly spent,

Abandoned all pretense of good intent;

Reneging on vows as if made in jest;

Brokering deals at others’ behest.

The more he wheedled, the more he cajoled,

The more special interests raked in the gold.

Unions made sure he was worth his hire

(Failure found an adoptive sire).

The AARP got such a big slice,

It moved to Palm Beach and retired twice.

Lawyers who traffic in frivolous suits

Not only flowered but sunk deeper roots.

Stupak’s circle was easy to cozen—

Such votes come cheap when bought by the dozen.

Obama, moreover, our stomachs tried

When he and Kucinich went for a ride,

The latter sure the flight would engender

Pride that he, too, was once a contender.

Thus, bribery ran a river in spate

And CBO numbers rigged the debate.

“The CBO scores” meant more than the bill;

Its amorous flings were the talk of the Hill;

Yet how it disproved we’d be in arrears

Got Enron’s director twenty-five years.

All shame was lost as Senate tradition

Sank more debased than life in perdition;

The Twisting of arms an optimum tool;

Goading a man to renounce his own rule.

How firm stood Obama in days of yore

(Reciting from notes on the Senate floor)

Against injustice he swore would take root

Should parliamentarians get the boot.

Here’s a conundrum: under his aegis

Nuclear warfare’s not so egregious.

Gone the alarmist, his dire narrative

Tweaked into a moral imperative

Wherewith Congress, their Rubicon crossed,

Measured their marches in liberties lost.

Passage felt like a bad movie ended—

Disbelief back (it was never suspended!)

To the ship now righted with waves of hats

Bukharin returned with all the rats;

Pelosi clutched her gavel gigantic

(Wanting to touch it Franken was frantic).

In a single year via Obama

Of government growth this was the Mama.

A new vein mined in the mountain of debt;

More booze-sodden toasts on Pelosi’s jet.

Speak! Liberty, in tones becoming age

What further plots these sad events presage.

Complete the equation; your prescient sum:

Obama past, Obama yet to come.


     By increments, like layers of guano;

Subtle as Janet Nepolitano,

The debt grew. Insuperably steady,

Always the Treasury at the ready

To gorge this glutton, loosed from Dante’s Hell;

Obesity’s rod to chastise Ms. Michelle.

      As orgies of outlays continued apace,

Bukharin restored enough of his face

To champion Obama’s brand new start

With all the gloss of a scholiast’s art.

One foot in his mouth, one in the stirrup,

He mounted his nag, “Following Europe”.

An equestrian byword, gaunt of rib,

Forever in search of a free corn crib,

It seemed to totter, the last of its legs

Less tendon and muscle than balsam pegs.

     Consider Pegasus, only larger;

As paragons go, a pure white charger;

And such was this nag esteemed in the press

That hardly a man could think of it less.

The Brians, the Katies, the Michael Moores

(When it rains on the Right it Amanpours)

Curtsied before this ignoble pairing,

Emblem of Washington way past caring.

     Not with less favor was Obama buoyed;

Defective or not, his warranty void.

In moralizing tones he lulled the brain

Like Mesmer dangling his watch and chain.

In the mid-forties his favorables polled,

And, crowds upon crowds, the bandwagon rolled.

Guileless soccer moms loathed fixing blame;

Their foresight reduced to the next road game.

Would that their children played always at home;

In time they’d see we’re collapsing like Rome.

     Independents held firm: There’s voters who think;

Straight down the middle and up to the brink;

Deists of dignity, atheists glad;

Truth blows in the wind with each hanging chad.

     Youths were the vanguard, who, passive as sheep,

Their legacy squandered, the jailer’s keep

Looming in health reform’s legislation,

Still cast their lots with Obamanation.

     Such was the spirit of undeterred zest,

The Leibniz-like hope, “It’s all for the best”

That spread contagion, each vote like a germ,

Vaulting Obama to a second term.

     Now darker impulses came to the fore,

Cued by interest rates starting to soar,

And all the misery multitudes faced—

The ultimate crisis that Rahm wouldn’t waste.

     The White House, gladdened, saw reason to fete;

The drama foretold, the stage had been set

For founding Utopia with the repute:

A nation of equals, all destitute.

     To this idea Obama held fast

Even as businesses sputtered their last.

The yoke of tight credit eliciting groans,

And, bound by red ink, banks calling in loans.

      Emboldened, Geithner, redoubled his haste

That dollars, devalued, be more so debased.

The press devils harked and took extra heed,

Obliging their boss with consummate speed.

As trading in greenbacks hit a new low

The clattering presses started to glow;

The belts and bearings so hot from the strain,

Whole sheets of bennies would burst into flame.

     America’s creditors got their comeuppance,

Paid back in dollars not worth a tuppence.

Nor could Bernanke’s obsequious pleas

Silence the rage of a billion Chinese.

Just blocks from the White House, dismal days dawned:

At Beijing’s request the Smithsonian pawned;

Removed from the coinage our trust in God;

Torn up and discarded the Mall’s new sod.

     Yet in a panic they STILL dumped our debt

Like “junk that sinks but doesn’t get wet”.

Progressives, convulsed with laughs of elation,

Thrilled at the currency’s immolation.

     Obama, unmasked, delivered his creed:

“From capital’s chains the nation is freed!

Fallen from azure are Liberty’s minions;

Their wealth dispersed and melted their pinions.

Their fate has devolved by nature’s command,

Like beasts to the sea relinquishing land.

By government sufferance they’ll still survive

And by their toil their countrymen thrive.

     “Hereinafter debate is discouraged;

Of bile and spleen be lawmakers purged.

Time’s expired though Lieberman stammer;

Franken presides. Behold his sledgehammer!

     “No rancor too great, I’ll heal the rift;

Make lions lay down with Eleanor Clift;

Focus America’s eyes on the prize:

Newsweek’s resurgence, Rush Limbaugh’s demise.

     No more on the Yank will foreigners sour;

Gone is the stigma of temporal power.

Lest there’s doubt our hegemony’s through,

The United Nations has vouched it true.

     “Liberty’s statue a title will bear

For indoctrination: The Great Au Pair.

She’ll tend the docile from cradle to grave,

But rule like Draco the home of the brave.”


     Liberty! Swear by all that’s heroic;

By Tom Paine’s cry or some martyred stoic;

That legions of devotees still unbowed

Can via the ballot box make you proud.

      Fled is your vision of unchecked decline;

Observed and noted; defeatists repine.

Awaits the nation whom you’ve anointed

To thwart Obama, and what’s appointed

In Two Thousand Twelve—the electoral shock

Bigger than Mayans resetting their clock.

     Called from rule of a people set apart;

Whisked from the North into the nation’s heart,

Liberty’s Chosen One graces our cause

With unvarnished reverence for all her laws.

Dian the Huntress! O thrice-noble one!

Who cradles, in camo, a twelve-gauge shotgun;

To her our great nation its homage pays.

She lifts the spirit and dazzles the gaze!

Ev’n as a baby shaking her rattle,

So shook the earth from Gnome to Seattle.

As harbingers go, a Democrat’s curse:

The rattle betiding a grip on their purse.

      Born of good stock, a family of teachers,

She cherished life and slaughtered its creatures;

And learned to subsist off a mountain ledge:

“The roughest berry from the rudest hedge”.

     Inured to long winters, her snow-broth blood

Flowed like a freshet in a warm spring flood.

For proof against cold—just braided tresses,

Seal-skin knickers and party dresses.

Many a skinned knee would her gambols cost

While skipping through darkness on permafrost.

     But summers were heav’n, abundant with light;

Sly Morpheus vanquished by wakey night.

Two a.m. ice cream in downtown Wasilla;

With thirty-one flavors—all vanilla.

     Steeled by decades of hardscrabble life,

Risen to governor, mother, and wife,

She preached an ethic of courage and faith

To all of her ilk, to whom she saith,

“The Republican Party’s one big tent,

Reached only by floatplane, like Jonah sent

To urge reform from Sidon to Tyre;

Or risk a rain of brimstone and fire”.

    The pundits mocked her like jesters at court.

Her high aspirations they turned to sport;

Demanding more than just her pilloried,

But swift boated, borked and ev’n hillaried.

With a regent’s poise she contained her rage

When a satyr struck from his late nite stage

With viscerally wrenching jabs to the gut

That felt like Carson degraded by smut.

     All she endured like an Alaskan Frost;

Her family maligned, her privacy lost.

When a Grub Street hack bent to his labor,

She built a fence and made a good neighbor.

     Now backed by an army of raw recruits,

In numbers like locusts, in brains like Newts,

She’s fixed their will like a diorama,

Pledged to unseating Barack Obama.

     Although from rustics her ranks are drawn,

It suffices that Sarah leads them on;

With a gig’s worth of Toby on her ipod,

Hers the conservative scepter and rod.

There’s no demographic she can’t get,

From harp seal hunters to the paint ball set.

Rose among brambles, she’ll start a new vogue

That will not stop ‘til we’ve all gone rogue.

     Lady of Iron! Like whom in stature

None can compare but Margaret Thatcher;

She’s picked up the gauntlet and entered the lists,

Her finger erect in spite of the fists,

To launch a campaign with a monster rally—

A million strong at the base of Denali

That could ev’n swell by a factor of two

United with migrating caribou.

     On behalf of Liberty she’ll proclaim

Austerity’s Era in all but name.

A purging of all that soils this nation

Couched in the virtue of deprivation.

In gemstone jellies and a gingham dress,

She’ll dub her campaign the “Dime Store Express”

Exalting thrift that begins in the home,

Then wends its way to the Capitol’s dome.

     Uncle Sam’s belt she’ll cinch ‘til it rankles

So pants at the knees don’t bag to the ankles;

A balanced budget required by law,

And further enjoined by Mama’s big paw.

     Bernanke’s Bastille she’ll take by storm;

(Rejecting all pretense of Fed reform)

Ransacking its books, exposing to view

Webs of corruption and monies undue.

Dare Wall Street object? They’ll live with their lot,

Cowed by “You betchas” that terminate “NOT!”

     Wrought of the stuff that gives virtue its soul,

Dogma inscribed on her hand like a scroll,

She’ll scatter a new political seed

That rewards hard work and punishes greed.

By chanting her name will children applaud,

Their futures preserved from government fraud;

Their voices attuned to freedom’s allure,

Anointing the blind with patriot myrrh.

     Like Joseph with harlots we’ve left our robes;

In fortitude Davids; in patience Jobs.

Forgoing the fruits of Liberty’s horn,

That orchards remain for ages unborn.

Of vulgar indulgence we stand confessed;

Our penance accepted; our penitence blessed.

Shriven, we’ll labor with each passing breath

Commending ourselves to a glorious death

When rising triumphal in Liberty’s cars,

We take our inheritance with the stars.

About the author:

Born in 1964, Jim Heffern grew up in Lawrenceville, New Jersey where he now resides. A career carpenter, he attributes his political bent to his father, Adrian Heffern, now retired, who covered New Jersey politics as a journalist for over thirty years. Jim had the distinct pleasure of attending high school with Jon Stewart. Two years younger than Jon, he only had one class with him-a history class called "The Making of Modern Europe" taken when he was a sophomore and Jon a senior. He recalls Jon had a special rapport with the teacher-a Reagan supporter (the year was 1980) who relished belittling all things liberal, his students not excepted. Such was their rapport, however, that the teacher, in perverse deference to Jon, kept pinned to his bulletin board a replica of a 1920 campaign poster featuring (in prison garb) the socialist candidate for president, Eugene Victor Debs.

Jim suspects this was a gift from Jon to the teacher and by its display, a way of honoring the gift more than the man. It remained in the classroom long after Jon had graduated, and the image of Debs' spare, wizened figure
in paper-thin tunic, his graybar digs in the background, sticks in Jim's mind even to this day. It's the image of dignity, resolve, and sacrifice-three virtues that today seem as obsolete as the philosophy which inspired them.


AP Lerner said...

An open letter to Prof. Anderson,

I’m open to the fact that maybe I am wrong in my views. I admit, I received an economics degree from one of those Ivy League institutions that you so despise. And I admit that it is possible that everything I witnessed with my own two eyes while working on a money market trading desk could have been a lie. In an effort to correct my misunderstandings of the banking system. In an effort to correct everything I have witnessed over the years as an investor. In an effort to educate your students, and others who frequent this blog, may I suggest taking a break from your endless childish bickering with Krugman and address the following items in a series of blog posts?

1) Could you explain the errors in this essay by Paul McCulley?

Specifically, could you please explain the relationship between the public, private, and external balances of the ecnomy? Is this graph just a coincidence?

2) If the US government represents a credit risk as you claim, could you explain why rates on US government securities continue to fall despite an increasing deficit and the repeated claims by Peter Schiff that bankruptcy is imminent?

3) If the government is revenue constrained as you claim, could you explain why entering WWII was not contingent on the completion of a bond auction? Could you explain why TARP was passed without seeking funding first? Could you explain why all government spending initiatives are not contingent on financing?

4) This one may be extremely difficult, but could you please address the flaws in this essay by a real economist, Bill Mitchell

Now, I recognize the school year has just begun and you have an entire new group of students to indoctrinate with your ideology. But, as someone who has a PHD in economics and claims to be far superior to a recent Nobel Prize winner, I can only assume these questions pose no challenge to you, and would not take much of your time answers. Thanks in advance for your response.

Bob Roddis said...

For starters, on your McCulley article, there is no such "thing" as "aggregate demand". So there is no reason to have the donut eater state do anything in an attempt to increase it.

Why don't you first prove that there is such a "thing" as "aggregate demand"?

More to follow in my spare time.

Bob Roddis said...

And the only way that can happen without increasing the risk of a deflationary depression is either for the developed country governments to continue to run large financial deficits and/or for the emerging countries to reduce their financial surpluses. Again, the tyranny of arithmetic.

I’m not sure what he means by a “deflationary depression”. Prices have been artificially bid up by funny money. Everything needs to be re-priced to reflect actually human wants and supplies. Historically, when inflationary prices were allowed to quickly re-set, the bust was over quickly. Of course, if there hadn’t been an artificially funny money boom in the first place, there would be no reason for a painful readjustment.

The donut eater state has no business interfering with pricing or re-pricing.

On the LRC site, Prof. Anderson has linked to an interesting article on the long term debt cost of sports stadiums. Such a boon to humanity.

I think that one of the few powers Congress actually has under the commerce clause would be to ban all states from ever granting any subsidy or tax privilege to any private entity. That would stop the inter-state bidding of subsidies and privileges.

Anonymous said...

Great poem. I wonder who Sarah will get to explain it to her in really, really short words.

Anonymous said...

McCulley really makes no points, other than we are on a fiat currency, we can just use a printing press later down the road. That's comforting.

And of course, aggregate demand.

His graph proves nothing. Have the deficits reduced unemployment? Have they increased our wealth? How much higher should we run them to achieve these things?

I'd like to hear a theory of exactly how this downturn occurred, and how bad it would have gotten, had we not spent all this money on stimulus and programs. Chartalists and Keynesians can't give this you. Why? Because it would show that all the money that has been spent hasn't helped the situation, it's only made it worse.

Only the Austrians have a coherent theory of the boom, bust, and why government stimulus isn't working.

Anonymous said...


I'd like to hear a theory of exactly how this downturn occurred, and how bad it would have gotten, had we not spent all this money on stimulus and programs. Chartalists and Keynesians can't give this you. Why? Because it would show that all the money that has been spent hasn't helped the situation, it's only made it worse.

Ask, and you shall receive:

The U.S. government’s response to the financial crisis and ensuing Great Recession included some of the most aggressive fiscal and monetary policies in history. The response was multifaceted and bipartisan, involving the Federal Reserve, Congress, and two administrations. Yet almost every one of these policy initiatives remain controversial to this day, with critics calling them misguided, ineffective or both. The debate over these policies is crucial because, with the economy still weak, more government support may be needed, as seen recently in both the extension of unemployment benefits and the Fed’s consideration of further easing.
In this paper, we use the Moody’s Analytics model of the U.S. economy—adjusted to accommodate some recent financial-market policies—to simulate the macroeconomic effects of the government’s total policy response. We find that its effects on real GDP, jobs, and inflation are huge, and probably averted what could have been called Great Depression 2.0. For example, we estimate that, without the government’s response, GDP in 2010 would be about 11.5% lower, payroll employment would be less by some 8½ million jobs, and the nation would now be experiencing deflation.
When we divide these effects into two components—one attributable to the fiscal stimulus and the other attributable to financial-market policies such as the TARP, the bank stress tests and the Fed’s quantitative easing—we estimate that the latter was substantially more powerful than the former. Nonetheless, the effects of the fiscal stimulus alone appear very substantial, raising 2010 real GDP by about 3.4%, holding the unemployment rate about 1½ percentage points lower, and adding almost 2.7 million jobs to U.S. payrolls. These estimates of the fiscal impact are broadly consistent with those made by the CBO and the Obama administration.To our knowledge, however, our comprehensive estimates of the effects of the financial-market policies are the first of their kind. We welcome other efforts to estimate these effects.

Do you have any Austrian mathematical efforts to provide to disprove it?

Anonymous said...

Why don't you first prove that there is such a "thing" as "aggregate demand"?

And of course, aggregate demand.

Well, I dunno: if Wikipedia takes the pain to define it, it must exist:

In macroeconomics, aggregate demand (AD) is the total demand for final goods and services in the economy (Y) at a given time and price level[1]. It is the amount of goods and services in the economy that will be purchased at all possible price levels.[2] This is the demand for the gross domestic product of a country when inventory levels are static. It is often called effective demand, though at other times this term is distinguished.

Do you deny the term exists, or do you have some other problem with it?

Anonymous said...

"I can't explain your chart"

The only honest thing you have said

Anonymous said...

You cannot, by fiat, make worthless assets worth something simply by shifting money from one part of the economy to the another.

The money that paid for these programs all had to come from somewhere. You can't simply shift money from one sector to another and say we're better off, overall, because of it.

If in five years, everyone has a job, and it pays, say, a million dollars a year, will it matter if standards of living have plummeted and the money will buy hardly anything?

I understand that most of what's happening now is the result of the recession. But what caused the recession in the first place? Cheap monetary policy and bad government policy.

People were taking on too much debt and not saving, as a result of monetary policy. Are we going to stimulate our way back into that? Obviously not. Why not have a sustainable, market based recovery, instead of trying to prop up bubbles and
create new ones.

No one denies aggregate demand exists as a term. I'm denying its use as a good tool for trying to centrally plan an economy.

P.S. I'm so glad the "Great Recession" is over.

Anonymous said...


"I can't explain your chart"

The only honest thing you have said

I don't understand who you are referring to. And it's tradition to quote things that are actually said or written ...

Anonymous said...


You cannot, by fiat, make worthless assets worth something simply by shifting money from one part of the economy to the another.

The money that paid for these programs all had to come from somewhere. You can't simply shift money from one sector to another and say we're better off, overall, because of it.

Actually, I thought this was the Austrian argument: that shifting money away from "mal-investments" to productive investments did make you better off?

It's hard to argue the logic, and even I would agree with this. But, how do you figure out apriori what the difference between a mal-investment and a productive investment is?

If in five years, everyone has a job, and it pays, say, a million dollars a year, will it matter if standards of living have plummeted and the money will buy hardly anything?

Will it? As long as wages and prices remain in rough parity with their actual productivity and value, living standards don't plummet.

A pound of meat might have been .10, a car may have cost 500, and a house may have cost 3000 in the 1930's. Clearly, prices today are higher, but we enjoy a greater standard of living, not the least of which is because our wages are higher.

I understand that most of what's happening now is the result of the recession. But what caused the recession in the first place? Cheap monetary policy and bad government policy.

I do partially agree with you here. Cheap money fueled this recession, just as it fueled the Great Depression. But expensive money means no investment: economies stagnate. Somewhere, there is a happy medium, and it's the Fed's job to maintain it. You may argue that the Fed has done a lousy job, and I'd agree with that: their job is to help sustain growth and full employment, and it's clear they've failed to do that. But that doesn't mean throw out the baby with the bathwater: it means that the Fed has to learn from its mistakes. One mistake seems to have been driven by political ideology, and I'm thinking about Greenspan here.

People were taking on too much debt and not saving, as a result of monetary policy. Are we going to stimulate our way back into that? Obviously not. Why not have a sustainable, market based recovery, instead of trying to prop up bubbles and
create new ones.

Well, tell us, and prove, how you would do that? The problem I see with the Austrian argument (and I'm not trying to be insulting, here) is that it is short in modeling, and thus short on proof. How can you decide, before the fact, that you're making a mal-investment?

I build product for a living: and forecasting demand before making investment is a large part of that process.

No one denies aggregate demand exists as a term. I'm denying its use as a good tool for trying to centrally plan an economy.

Maybe, maybe not. But the 30 years preceding 1980 grew sustainably more than the 30 years after 1980. Is it perfect? Not by any means: any system created by humans is not perfect. Is it a part of the equation? Undoubtedly so. Not since the 1930's has this nation's wealth and spending power been so concentrated. I'm not sure it's a coincidence that we almost suffered Great Depression 2.0 ...

P.S. I'm so glad the "Great Recession" is over.

Sure, but please go back and reflect how much worse it could have been, had the government not acted and spent money to correct its own and Wall Street's excesses. How much more GDP lost, how many more jobs lost, how much greater the deficit/debt would have been. Corporations are swimming in profit and in cash: those that have jobs are even more productive than they were before (because their doing the work of those that have been laid off, too).

Remember that the Titanic sits at equilibrium. At rest at the bottom of the ocean. Without government spending, we could be there, too.

burkll13 said...

@ 5:42 Anon

it looks to me that you have central planning in your DNA.

"Actually, I thought this was the Austrian argument: that shifting money away from "mal-investments" to productive investments did make you better off?"

true, but there is a big difference between allowing, without intervention, money to get shifted away from malinvestments, and throwing new money around, supposedly indiscriminately in order to make those malinvestments look better by comparison.

"It's hard to argue the logic, and even I would agree with this. But, how do you figure out apriori what the difference between a mal-investment and a productive investment is?"

with my dollars.

"Well, tell us, and prove, how you would do that? The problem I see with the Austrian argument (and I'm not trying to be insulting, here) is that it is short in modeling, and thus short on proof. How can you decide, before the fact, that you're making a mal-investment?

I build product for a living: and forecasting demand before making investment is a large part of that process."

modeling ≠ proof

using aggregate data to attempt build a model to make future decisions, ESPECIALLY at a far reaching, central level, is lazy and inaccurate

we arent against forecasting at all. we just think everyone is much better off when that is done by individuals like you, and not some bureaucrat in an office with no direct connection or liability to the community they are making decisions for.

"Remember that the Titanic sits at equilibrium. At rest at the bottom of the ocean. Without government spending, we could be there, too."

worst. analogy. ever.