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  • Alternate History

    Posted by David Foster on March 24th, 2016 (All posts by )

    Having long been intrigued by lighter-than-air craft (see earlier post on this topic), I picked up a copy of  Dr. Eckener’s Dream Machine…Dr Hugo Eckener being the head of the Zeppelin company for many years, and a man who contributed much to the transient success of this transportation mode.  Also, I thought the book would be a pleasant vacation from politics.  However, that was not to be…

     

    I had been aware that Eckener was anti-Nazi and that he had incurred Hitler’s lasting enmity by refusing use of the company’s Friedrichshafen hanger for a Nazi Party rally.  I did not know, though, that his popularity in Germany was so great that he was seriously considered as a Presidential candidate in the 1932 elections…the leaders of the Central Party and the Social Democrats actually approached him to do this.  One Berlin banker said:

    “I knew all the leading political and commercial leaders of Germany in the early 1930s.  Nowhere on the national scene was there a man so competent to assume the leadership of the government as was Hugo Eckener.”

    But Eckener was reluctant to run, citing his heavy continuing involvement in zeppelin projects, his lack of desire to become a politician, and the point that he did not want to run against Hindenburg.  The latter point seems to have been the determining one, since he indicated he would stand for President if the 85-year-old Hindenburg decided not to run for reelection.  But Hindenburg did run, of course, and we all know the consequences.

    I don’t know whether Eckener’s desire to avoid running against Hindenburg was due to admiration for the man, or simply to the fact that he might have considered him unbeatable.  But imagine…what if Eckener had chosen to run, and what if he had won?

    Is there a Hugo Eckener in America today?…Someone who has avoided political involvement but who, if he did decide to become involved, would have a decent prospect of heading off the dark times that seem to loom ahead?

     

    27 Responses to “Alternate History”

    1. Mike Cunningham Says:

      but who, if he did decide to become involved, would have a decent prospect of heading off the dark times that seem to loom ahead?”

      Presumably a less-than-heavily-disguised commentary upon the relative merits of either the complaisant wife of a former President, along with her own well-documented failings, such as Benghazi, ’email-gate’ and the years of failure with Obamalamadingdong; or the distinct possibility of a new guy on the block, wealthy enough in his own right as to discard the clarion calls of cash tied to failed policies; and sufficiently his own man as to scare the living ‘bejeezus’ out of the hide-bound clowns who allegedly run the Republican Party.

      Hopefully, the voters in the remaining Primaries, and henceforwards the voters in the November elections will not be swayed by elitist sentiments such as those spoken and written in a vain attempt to bring out a candidate more ‘suitable’ than the two presently on offer. I wish you joy!

    2. David Foster Says:

      Mike…you seem to be asserting that we have already *found* our equivalent of Eckener, and that it is Trump. Is that your point?

    3. Michael Hiteshew Says:

      I think that politics has become so poisonous that many competent and decent, but flawed, people simply stay out. They look at someone like Sara Palin and ask, ‘Why would I put myself or my family through something like that?’ Next to islam, Progressivism is the most destructive force loose on the planet.

      That said, I was really impressed with former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Gates

    4. David Foster Says:

      Michael H…”I think that politics has become so poisonous that many competent and decent, but flawed, people simply stay out. They look at someone like Sara Palin and ask, ‘Why would I put myself or my family through something like that?’”

      No doubt. And imagine what the poison level was in Germany in 1932, where Left vs Right street fights had been a regular feature for years.

      We are now starting to see the same sort of thing here, with the Leftist attacks on Trump rallies…and a few acts of violence by Trump supporters, but right now it looks like the anti-free-speech activity is 10:1 on the Left.

      The posting of “nude” picture of Trump’s wife (not all that nude, from the image I saw)…(by a Cruz-supporting PAC, not by the Trump campaign itself)…and Trump’s response, threatening to ‘spill the beans’ on Heidi Cruz…are exactly the sort of thing that surely persuades many able people to stay the hell out of politics.

    5. Michael Hiteshew Says:

      Speaking of lighter than air ships, this hybrid airship was developed by the DoD but program funding was terminated in Congress. Very little of what Congress does these days makes sense to me. We are led by an army of the corrupt and incompetent.

      http://www.popularmechanics.com/military/g913/us-armys-new-battle-blimp-takes-flight/?slide=1

      I believe the Brits recently purchased it.

    6. dearieme Says:

      Trump will not become President. Once he is the Republican candidate he will either be brought down by a scandal, real or concocted (since the Dems control the media), or he’ll be driven out of the campaign by blackmail/arrest/assassination or whatever.

    7. Trent Telenko Says:

      dearieme,

      Three points for your consideration

      1. Thousands of trained ISIS and Al-Qaeda terrorists have arrived in Europe in the last year.

      2. There will be between one and three more Paris to Brussels class Muslim terrorist attacks in Europe between now and Nov 2016.

      3. Air travel from Belgium to the USA does not require visa’s, AKA we are now in Pre-9/11/2001 security WRT foreign terrorist access to the USA.

      The chances of any sort of media manufactured scandal taking down Trump in a political environment of multiple major Muslim terrorist attacks in Europe — with possible one more in the USA — will be some where between slim and none.

      And ‘Slim’ just left town.

    8. Mike K Says:

      “That said, I was really impressed with former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.”

      Yes, I read his book, Duty, is really worthwhile.

      Panetta’s book, which I got after, is not as good.

      He was president of Texas A&M and loved it. I doubt if he could be lured out of retirement to do anything else.

    9. Mike K Says:

      We probably have 50 to 100 terrorists among the “Syrians” that Obama has been importing and placing in red state towns secretly.

      This CNN piece says only 1,500 by November but I have seen other estimates.

      Only 1,500 Syrian refugees have been accepted into the United States since 2011, but the Obama administration announced in September that 10,000 Syrians will be allowed entry next year.

      The Council on American-Islamic Relations said Monday, “Defeating ISIS involves projecting American ideals to the world. Governors who reject those fleeing war and persecution abandon our ideals and instead project our fears to the world.”
      Authority over admitting refugees to the country, though, rests with the federal government — not with the states — though individual states can make the acceptance process much more difficult, experts said.

      It hasn’t worked well with the Somalis in Minnesota. 25,000 according to Wiki

      Lots of problems. ISIS recruits. Muslim taxi drivers not allowing seeing eye dogs. Muslim grocery checkers refusing to check out pork purchases.

    10. Robert Schwartz Says:

      “Next to Islam, Progressivism is the most destructive force loose on the planet.”

      Amen.

      Although, I would add that it is a close second, and that Islam would be confined to the hell holes of the Middle East were it not for the baleful effects of socialism (same thing as progressiveism) in Europe.

    11. Subotai Bahadur Says:

      Trent Telenko Says:
      March 24th, 2016 at 2:21 pm

      I agree in large part with your analysis, but am less sanguine about the viability of electoral politics in this case.

      Of the cases that Dearieme mentioned, I count the possibility of Trump’s being assassinated as being possible and growing in probability by the day. The Nomenklatura of both wings of the Bipartisan Governing Party would benefit greatly if there were some sort of tragedy. The Democrat side gave up any pretense of following the law long ago. For the Republicans, it is an open pretense. Either would have the resources/protection of the State to accomplish the act. History does not repeat itself, it rhymes. What rhymes with 1968?

      In the last few days, there has been more and more talk of the Republican convention being rigged, of the Rules Committee basically changing things AFTER the primaries, and the GOPe inserting its own choice as candidate in defiance of the Republican voter base. Even Reince Preibus refused to say a couple of days ago that the nominee will be one of the 3 remaining candidates. It would destroy the Republican party outside of DC, and give the presidency to the Left in perpetuity.

      The third possibility would be a declaration of emergency under any number of economic and DHS statutes already on the books and the “temporary suspension” of elections for the duration of the emergency. Politically there would be no opposition so long as incumbents kept their places, paychecks, and illusion of power.

      Of course YMMV. I am cynical about what people in power will do to maintain it, and believe that even paranoids do have enemies. ;-)

    12. Robert Schwartz Says:

      “a new guy on the block, wealthy enough in his own right as to discard the clarion calls of cash tied to failed policies”

      One mantra the Trumpeters repeat is that the Donald is so rich that he can’t be bought. This is the sort of hopeful B$ that one hears from folks who have no experience with large amounts of money and no contact with really rich people.

      Wealth is not the antidote to desire.

      I think the Trumpeters mantra is non-sense on stilts. There has never, in the history of mankind, been anyone so rich that he neither wanted nor sought more. As the Boss put it:

      Poor man wanna be rich,
      Rich man wanna be king
      And a king ain’t satisfied
      Till he rules everything

      Ask yourself, if Trump does not want more money, why has he spent so much time and effort on marginal crap like Trump Steaks, Trump Suits, and Trump University?

      I will assert, that a man who says that he cannot be bought, is selling himself, but he wants you to open with a higher bid.

    13. Mike K Says:

      “I count the possibility of Trump’s being assassinated as being possible and growing in probability by the day.”

      I am concerned about this more and more. I think Trump is on an ego trip and wants to do something to help his country. If any of the conventional politicians had adopted a few of his policies, he would be forgotten. They didn’t.

      If he is not assassinated, he will be president, hopefully with some experienced people to help him.

    14. TangoMan Says:

      Ask yourself, if Trump does not want more money, why has he spent so much time and effort on marginal crap like Trump Steaks, Trump Suits, and Trump University?

      A shark has to keep swimming. Trump’s a deal maker, he lives to make deals, to extend his brad. Definitely Trump wants more money. Going by Trump’s comments from years past he’s indicated that he doesn’t like the financialization of the US economy and he doesn’t like the current practices of Wall Street and he doesn’t like the carried interest tax rule. What we see are boundaries to Trump’s activities – he focuses his energies on non-financial activities. If making money was his only goal then he probably could have made multiples of his fortune by tying in with some Wall Street heavy hitters but he avoided that route. His liking money doesn’t imply that he’s for sale. I like money but I’m not for sale.

      What Trump wants is respect. That should be clear to everyone. He wants to cram his success down the throat of naysayers, the haughty and elite who look down on him.

      He alone is the nationalist while all others are globalists. Many voters have soured on all aspects of globalism. Trump becomes the only vehicle available to offer a chance of a different path forward.

      His combination of nationalism, wanting to best his class enemies, his discomfort with the financialization of the economy, are a pretty fine package to take into an election for he embodies in a person the feelings of many in the nation. If Trump wants to rub his enemies’ faces in the mud would he stand for being bought off by them? I certainly wouldn’t. Bill and Hillary know who there are, they are paid mouthpieces, they can be bribed to take any position. Trump is more prideful, and so, on some issues, he will be more principled. His having power over his class enemies will be worth more to him than any monetary bribe that would be worth paying to an ordinary President. For me, what I see as Trump’s self-interest is also my assurance that he’s the best chance I have of seeing the nation’s trajectory change course.

    15. TangoMan Says:

      I just came across this Washington Post article about Trump and the finance industry:

      But Trump’s relationship with Wall Street appears to end at real estate. And that has some insiders nervous.

      “I can’t find connective tissue between the financial sector and Trump,” said one senior industry official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid being seen publicly questioning Trump.

      Throughout the financial world, worried executives are grasping for clues into Trump’s thinking. This much is clear: Hedge fund executives could have to fight to retain one of the industry’s biggest perks — the lower tax rate they pay on their profits.

      “They’re paying nothing. And it’s ridiculous,” Trump said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” last year. “I want to save the middle class. . . . The hedge-fund guys didn’t build this country. These are guys that shift paper around, and they get lucky.”

      More concerning, some executives say, is how and if Trump would weigh in on issues such as whether 2010’s congressional financial reform package, Dodd-Frank, went far enough to secure the financial system or if regulators should be spending more time prosecuting white-collar crime.

      “Wall Street works in close collaboration between policymakers and markets, and Trump is a disrupter,” said Peter Kenny, a 20-year Wall Street veteran. “Just because he’s a billionaire does not mean that he is part of the team.”

    16. David Foster Says:

      “They’re paying nothing. And it’s ridiculous,” Trump said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” last year. “I want to save the middle class. . . . The hedge-fund guys didn’t build this country. These are guys that shift paper around, and they get lucky.”

      Whatever one thinks of the carried-interest rule, it does not apply only to “hedge-fund guys”, it also applies to the venture capital industry. And the VC industry has had a great deal to do with most of the “building of this country” that has actually occurred in the last 40 years.

    17. Mike K Says:

      “whether 2010’s congressional financial reform package, Dodd-Frank, went far enough to secure the financial system ”

      The bill was written by lobbyists as is much of the legislation written the past 40 years. Certainly, Obamacare was written by insurance lobbyists who did not get into the secret rooms of Hillarycare and killed it off. Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid followed Johnson’s old rule of having someone “inside the tent pissing out…”

      The problem is that insurance companies don;t want to be in the health insurance business. They want to process claims and bill for it. That’s what they do for employer plans. There has not been real health insurance in this country since the 70s.

      I am no expert on the financial industry but I am on healthcare. It’s Crichton’s “Gell-Mann Amnesia theory” all over again. We recognize crap when it is something we know about. Then we assume the media and the politicians know what they are doing with things we don’t know about. That has been going on for years.

      And now we have Trump.

      “For me, what I see as Trump’s self-interest is also my assurance that he’s the best chance I have of seeing the nation’s trajectory change course.”

      I agree with this and am more and more confident that, this time, we can upset their applecart. Part of that confidence is the result of fracking which will free us from the dependence on the middle east.

    18. Jonathan Says:

      whether 2010’s congressional financial reform package, Dodd-Frank, went far enough to secure the financial system

      Let me pile on. Dodd-Frank is one of the reasons why the economy has been limping along since the 2008 financial crisis. It is a terrible law that hobbles the banking and financial system with new layers of regulation and intrusiveness. It does nothing for consumers other than to increase their costs and reduce their choices, which was the idea since its main goal was to put small and medium-sized banks out of business for the benefit of the big banks for whom the law was really written. We should repeal it along with Sarbanes-Oxley, which along with McCain-Feingold and the TSA is one of the Bush administration’s worst legacies. Trump’s support for this kind of terrible crony regulation is a disgrace, as is his hostility to free international trade. He really is a bad candidate. His saving graces, maybe, are that he appears to genuinely like this country, and Hillary is worse.

    19. Mike K Says:

      “his hostility to free international trade”

      I am slowly coming around to the idea that free trade when the trading partners are not equal, is not such a good idea. Traditionally, tariffs were used by the developing country to protect domestic industry. Now we have a system where a welfare state that hobbles its own industries with regulation and excessive labor costs is at a disadvantage with the developing country that has lower costs in labor but less regulation and can underprice the welfare state no matter the difference in transportation costs and quality.

      I’m not sure about the solution but I think I see a problem.

    20. Mike K Says:

      One example I can think of from my own field is the reading of x-rays. They are all digital now. Many are read in India by physicians (maybe) of whom we have no information.

      This is a bit more serious than back office work for credit card companies.

    21. Bill Brandt Says:

      I have long thought that there are many qualified people that would be great Presidents, but they would not want to be in the circus for a year or more. And campaigning successfully and actually governing are 2 completely different talents, as we have seen in recent history.

      One of the best books I have read on Weimar Germany is Wm Manchester’s biography The Last Lion. Germany’s economy was in shambles, there were street fights not only with the communists but ordinary citizens were attacked by Nazi thugs – and Hitler was a demagogue promising to make things all netter.

      I doubt that a Hugo Eckener would have prevailed.

      Another great book on the Nazi era pre WW2 is In The Garden Of Beasts

      http://www.amazon.com/In-Garden-Beasts-American-Hitlers/dp/030740885X

    22. Mike K Says:

      Garden of Beasts is excellent.

      I reviewed it but 3,000 others did and Amazon no longer gives me a link to my reviews.

    23. TangoMan Says:

      . . . as is his hostility to free international trade.

      What I’m interested in now is hearing from free trade purists about their proposed solutions to address the concerns of those who’ve been harmed by free trade.

      I well understand the theory but I’m looking at empirical reality and I’m not seeing the promised nirvana. If you think Trump is wrong what do you propose to do about the hollowing out of the middle class, the widening of income inequality and the deindustrialization of the US. Doubling down on theory while ignoring the problems doesn’t inspire someone like me to come back to the fold.

    24. David Foster Says:

      Mike K…”I am slowly coming around to the idea that free trade when the trading partners are not equal, is not such a good idea. Traditionally, tariffs were used by the developing country to protect domestic industry. Now we have a system where a welfare state that hobbles its own industries with regulation and excessive labor costs is at a disadvantage with the developing country that has lower costs in labor but less regulation and can underprice the welfare state no matter the difference in transportation costs and quality.”

      Some low-labor-cost areas actually have *more* regulation, specifically of speech and association. I don’t think employees at Foxconn (for example) would be allowed to band together to negotiate higher wages in the way the employees of an American company would.

    25. Robert Schwartz Says:

      David Foster: “Whatever one thinks of the carried-interest rule, it does not apply only to “hedge-fund guys”, it also applies to the venture capital industry.”

      Actually, another class of businessmen who rely on what you, and a lot of other people, misnomer as “the carried-interest rule”* are real-estate developers. In fact, they have used the “rule” for many more years, and many more dollars, than have the hedge fund or VC businesses. Both of which are much newer phenomena than real estate development, which goes back to the second day of Creation.

      The moment that The Donald’s personal accountant, tells The Donald that The Donald’s proposal about carried interest will cost The Donald millions of dollars on The Donald’s personal income tax return, the proposal will be added to the enormous pile of things The Donald will forget about between The Donald’s election and The Donald’s inauguration. I would love to be a fly on the wall for that conversation.

      *There is no such rule. The income tax treatment of the profits gained by a partner from his partnership is determined by the provisions of Subchapter K of the IRC. That Subchapter’s rules, which are obscure, hermetic, and mind bending, determine which partners get how much, but the of what is ruled by the rest of the code, including Subchapter O on the “Gain or Loss on the Distribution of Property”, i.e. capital gains vs. ordinary gains. What happens when those two sets of rules interact is why tax laywers and tax accountants can make very good salaries. Further, the term “carried interest” is a term of business jargon, not of the IRC.

    26. David Foster Says:

      My understanding of carried interest (and I’m using the term by which it is usually referred rather than citing IRC sections) is that it is a function of organizational structure and the time investments are held–if you set up a Limited Partnership in real estate with yourself as the General Partner, you can indeed quality for Carried Interest rates. In the case of hedge funds (a term that is used very loosely), it’s not going to do you much good if your emphasis is on short-term trading.

      Article here by Kevin Williamson on CI, hedge funds, and stock options:

      http://www.nationalreview.com/article/424394/about-those-hedge-fund-guys

      He is wrong in his discussion of stock option taxation. At least in the case of Nonqualified stock options (the vast majority of them), the clock for capital gains treatment does not begin when the options are issued, but rather when they are exercised (which requires paying the option strike price)

      Article specifically about CI in real estate, and a defense thereof:

      http://www.schneiderdowns.com/carried-interest-real-estate

    27. Robert Schwartz Says:

      David Foster, I have no quarrel with your understanding. It seems to be excellent. I just think that people need to be aware, that there is not a single rule at work here, but rather the emergent result of the intersection of a number of rules, each of which is well established, and not directed to a particular class of persons. I.e., there is no carried interest loophole.

      BTW: if you want to get a headache, try to explain the difference between incentive stock options and and non-qualifed stock options to a compensation committee.