Presidential Transportation

 There has been, over the past couple of generations, a gradual tendency for the Presidency to acquire power and the trappings of power to an almost Imperial extent.  Certainly Presidential transportation is one of the most spectacular examples: having two of your own superbly and specially-equipped 747s is not going to make you humble.  Air Force One has become a prime symbol of presidential power and prestige.
           Well, that kind of Presidential power and prestige is fundamentally un-American.  It’s bad symbolism: bad for the Republic, bad for Presidential mental health.  President are our servants, not our masters, and they should never be allowed to forget it.  I am reminded of the agent who was visiting a British-owned cattle ranch in Wyoming back in 1890 and asked a cowboy “if his master was in”.  The cowboy replied: “The bastard hasn’t even been born yet.”
            POTUS needs his wings clipped.    We need to make sure that the President knows who the boss is  – us.   I have a bracing alternative strategy in mind, one that also shows the proper spirit of austerity.
           First, ditch the 747s.   Ground transportation  was good enough for George Washington and it’s plenty good enough for lesser Presidents.    I think that we should replace the big birds  with a garbage truck: – armored, naturally, for security - the modern kind of garbage truck that automatically picks up a garbage can and dumps it .  The Secret Service would prepare the Prez for travel by gently inserting him into the official White House trash can – head first, so that he could be safely decanted into the softly yielding garbage in the back of the truck.   The method would be the same for White House staff and the press, except that in those cases, we could put several staffers/reporters in the garbage can at a time. This may unduly favor the President, but hey, RHIP.  Perhaps we could modify the truck so that it can accept garbage from the left and right simultaneously, speeding the loading process.
            There would of course typically be garbage in the back since it would be silly to let the truck just sit idly inbetween Presidential expeditions -  zoo excrement and medical waste don’t haul themselves, you know.
             Some  may object that such travel conditions might soil clothes and impart the pure odor of politics – well, if there are any complaints,  we can always (upon arrival) turn the fire hose on the Prez and his minions.  Perhaps we could add a characteristic colorful dye that would help people  identify the Presidential party – this  would allow voters to be absolutely sure that these people were really the President and his merry men, rather some traveling set of gypsies or mummers.
            This approach isn’t just good politics – it’s ecologically sound.   We save fossil fuels, of course -  the truck’s diesel engine would run on biofuel produced from restaurant grease and slaughterhouse carrion. But there’s more - flattened fauna found along the freeway – cooked on top of the engine block  ( by the White House chef, natch – those French sauces  can be  poured over anything) -  should allow the party to live off the land.
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31 Responses to Presidential Transportation

  1. Nyk says:

    I was watching an episode of Stargate the other day, which featured an alternate reality in which “Air Force One” is actually one of Earth’s only 3 or so capital spaceships…

  2. winestock says:

    Cute. I’ve noticed this, myself. It’s not just Air Force One. In press conferences and motion pictures, people say the words “Mr. President” with the same inflection as “Your Highness” or “Your Majesty.” Instead of a throne room, he sits in the Oval Office. Instead of a scepter, he has “the football.”

    When George Bush the Lesser won the election, I heard a reporter on television commenting about Bush glad-handing the well-wishers saying that “he looks very Presidential.” He could have substituted the word “imperial” for the same effect.

    Hillaire Belloc pointed out that the word emperor comes from the Latin word “imperator,” which means “general” but, in the context of “imperator Romae,” carried the added connotation of “commander in chief.” Well whaddaya know… that’s one of the President’s titles.

    I just noticed that I consistently capitalized the spelling of “President” in this post. Hmmmm.

    • As the HBO series ‘John Adams’ dramatized it, the title ‘Commander-in-Chief’ was chosen by an idle, bored Congress presided over by Vice President John Adams. This could be wrong of course, as TV and movies tend to be, but it was amusing to watch nonetheless.

  3. random mutation says:

    It seems his majesty is psyching himself up to sign the small arms treaty. After all, Mexico has implored him.

  4. dearieme says:

    Your President is an elected monarch. Your countrymen seem perfectly happy to defer to him, to fuss about his First lady, and generally to abase themselves. If he were a Constitutional Monarch, a mere uniting symbol of his country, that would be well and good. But actually he’s a slithery politician, a natural divider of his country. (I refer to the post, not to its incumbent.) All this is traces back to an unfortunate oversight by your Founding Fathers – they really should have had separate posts for Chairman and CEO. It’s time you amended your Constitution.

  5. Unknown says:

    The intentions of the USA’s founding fathers are obvious, not power to the people, power to themselves. Pretty much every aspect of american government is related to the Romans in some way.(the senate the architecture and multiple titles given to high ranking members of government)

    ie:Rome= Ancient symbol of Power

  6. typal says:

    Regularly ordering the death of pesky people, like English cattle barons in Wyoming did, has a way of affecting the ego whatever your mode of transportation. The ranchers only had Tom Horn, Obama has accounted for about a thousand with his CIA drones. He’s changed, the jokes he’s made about Predators and his wife prove it.

  7. dearieme says:

    “Pretty much every aspect of american government is related to the Romans in some way”: you don’t think perhaps that House of Reps House of Commons, Senate House of Lords, President Monarch?

  8. Tschafer says:

    As near as I can tell, this business of imperial trappings around the president started with FDR, abated somewhat with Truman and Eisenhower, and then really hit stride with JFK. Under conservative presidents, their egos are at least partially constrained by a pathalogically hostile press (except when they implement leftist policies, when they “grow in office”), but with liberals, the sky is the limit. The media fawning on Obama has just been astonishing, far worse than I had anticipated, and as noted by “Typal”, it’s changed him, and not for the better.

  9. ziel says:

    Bad idea – would be terrible for foreign relations. Imagine, say, the Israeli Prime Minister visiting here and seeing such a sight. He’d feel so contemptuous towards our executive he might even get to thinking that he’s the one in charge.

  10. Dan Kurt says:

    re: the Imperial President

    You worthies, especially the blogger, seem to be assuming this national farce is long for this world therefore sarcasm is funny, Ha Ha. Imagine if it were possible for a French writer to joke similarly at the end of 1788 about the King of France. Come 1790 the joke starts losing its punch and by 1793 both the Jape and Louis the XVI’s Head is in a basket. Spending by the US Governments at all levels is going exponential. Those that work are now in the minority. Envy is preached by most politicians, from most pulpits and certainly at all levels of the “educational” system. It will not end well.

    With the acceleration of USA’s devolution obvious to even knuckleheads by now, instead of a satire on the presidency perhaps a betting pool for the end of the presidency should be set up. Actually two pools should be set up: 1) Date the US Presidency vanishes with the wind and 2) Where Obama flees to on Air Force One or Two as he finally figures out who built the mess when he looks in a mirror. Gregory Cochran should do it for the vigs. Worried about it being legal? There are indian reservations out there in Utah, no?

    Dan Kurt

    • gcochran9 says:

      You should have checked the accuracy of your statement before posting, because pretty much everything you said or implied is untrue. Overall government spending is not ‘growing exponentially’. The working fraction of the population has not changed much in the past 30 years.

      There are certainly negative trends: the non-working fraction was mostly kids in the 1950s and now it’s more codgers. The population is likely getting significantly dumber, because of changing ethnic composition and bad selective trends within every population. But I don’t think you have to personally worry about that future, because when I become King, I’m gonna shoot all the jackasses.

      • Dan Kurt says:

        Are we in the same world? Trillions are budigeted now without a pause yet a few years ago it was billions. Check out this projection from 2 years ago: or http://articles.businessinsider.com/2010-01-26/wall_street/29966380_1_defense-spending-freeze-entitlement.

        As to who is working, the government says 8% unemployeed yet many economists use a figure of more like 20% because people “not looking” are “not counted.” Heck, I know of kids of my neighbors and friends in their twenties who are still looking for their “first real jobs.”

        The national debt is approaching 20 trillion. If we consider unfunded liabilities it is over 100 trillion. On top of our debt the Fed is reportedly bailing out many foreign central banks and we are not told how much is being spent on that.

        How can you be so insouciant

        Dan Kurt

        p.s. Get that CROWN.

      • gcochran9 says:

        Probably we are in the same world: although I have often run into people who sure sound as if they’re not – coming from timelines where Alexander died in battle, or the Germans fought a fierce guerrilla war against American occupiers after WWII. Going sideways-in-time seems to scramble their brains (the result of some kind of exotic physics, perhaps?) because they are usually fools.

        You probably just don’t know the numbers. Hardly anybody does. Total Federal spending was 22.9% of GDP in 1981, 25.36% in 2011. An increase, but you could hardly call it exponential. More like logarithmic. Both numbers were high partly due to a bad recession – the current one is much worse than the one in 1981. Total government spending at all levels has gone from 31.5% in 1981 to 35% in 2010.

        Now if you’re an old fart, sure, it was lower in the 1950s and much lower before WWII: lower still before WWI.

        The deficit is big mainly because tax revenues have collapsed (worst recession since WWII) and tax rates are the lowest in many, many years. Which low rates were supposed to goose economic growth, just as they did in the Roman Empire. That’s a joke, son. But of course it has not worked.

      • H says:

        Which low rates were supposed to goose economic growth, just as they did in the Roman Empire. That’s a joke, son. But of course it has not worked.

        Right. The counter-intuitive historical truth is that a progressive income tax regime with over 90% for top bracket incomes actually encouraged management and employers to raise wages. The principle behind this truth is that it is easier to be generous with the government’s money. In the past, when top corporate income tax rate was at over 50% and personal income tax rate at over 90%, both management and employers had less incentive to maximize net income by cutting cost in the form of wages. Why give the government the money when it could be better spent keeping employees happy?

        Income tax rate reduction invited employers to keep wages low because cost savings from wages would produce profits that employers could keep instead of having it taxed away by high tax rates. The low income tax rate regime leads directly to stagnant wages. Say’s Law on “supply creating its own demand” holds true only under full employment with good wages, a condition that economists conveniently ignore. To keep demand up, workers in a low wage economy are offered easy money in the form of sub-prime debt rather than as paying consumers with high wages, creating more phantom profit for the financial sector at the expense of the manufacturing sector.

        Wages began to stagnate as the tax on top icome bracket fell, while the financial elite was keeping luxury goods makers busy by using the pension funds of workers to move jobs to low wage economies overseas. As American workers turned to low price imports at Wal-Mart, and their pension funds were giddy with high returns, their own jobs at home were disappearing as the wages and benefits of those still working fall below living wage levels

        The average American wage earner has very little reason to support a lowering of the top rates in a progressive income tax regime if they understand that employers would rather give tax savings to employees in higher wages than pay high taxes to the government, given the same after-tax net profit.

        But the Wall Street Journal or CNBC would never tell workers that basic truth. Rather, workers are told that high taxes lead to high unemployment to scare wage earners into voting for still lower progressive rates that only benefit those who have been oppressing workers with the workers’ own pension money.

      • H says:

        Which low rates were supposed to goose economic growth, just as they did in the Roman Empire. That’s a joke, son. But of course it has not worked.

        Right. The counter-intuitive historical truth is that a progressive income tax regime with over 90% for top bracket incomes actually encouraged management and employers to raise wages. The principle behind this truth is that it is easier to be generous with the government’s money. In the past, when top corporate income tax rate was at over 50% and personal income tax rate at over 90%, both management and employers had less incentive to maximize net income by cutting cost in the form of wages. Why give the government the money when it could be better spent keeping employees happy?

        Income tax rate reduction invited employers to keep wages low because cost savings from wages would produce profits that employers could keep instead of having it taxed away by high tax rates. The low income tax rate regime leads directly to stagnant wages. Say’s Law on “supply creating its own demand” holds true only under full employment with good wages, a condition that economists conveniently ignore. To keep demand up, workers in a low wage economy are offered easy money in the form of sub-prime debt rather than as paying consumers with high wages, creating more phantom profit for the financial sector at the expense of the manufacturing sector.

        Wages began to stagnate as the tax on top icome bracket fell, while the financial elite was keeping luxury goods makers busy by using the pension funds of workers to move jobs to low wage economies overseas. As American workers turned to low price imports at Wal-Mart, and their pension funds were giddy with high returns, their own jobs at home were disappearing as the wages and benefits of those still working fall below living wage levels

        The average American wage earner has very little reason to support a lowering of the top rates in a progressive income tax regime if they understand that employers would rather give tax savings to employees in higher wages than pay high taxes to the government, given the same after-tax net profit.

        But the Wall St. Journal or CNBC would never tell workers that basic truth. Rather, workers are told that high taxes lead to high unemployment to scare wage earners into voting for still lower progressive rates that only benefit those who have been oppressing workers with the workers’ own pension money.

  11. DK says:

    President are our servants, not our masters

    Damn right, they are. Reminds me how popular the expression “servants of the people” was in the USSR in relation to the ruling party elites.

  12. shawfactor says:

    Thomas Jefferson walked to his innuagration

  13. erica says:

    This POTUS shares the hubris of Icarus. If it were up to me, I’d give him some wings (but not before I’d knock his damn feet off the Presidential desk in the Oval Office.)

  14. Robert King says:

    Those of us back in blighty find it curious that you have got rid of royalty only to recreate it. C’mon. Give us something to aim at. We hired a travelling troupe of German nobles (stage name “The Windsors”) to give us that sense of submissiveness that we crave. But you guys are meant to be rebels.

  15. TWS says:

    Got stuck behind a Presidential or vice pres (I forget which) motorcade in Seattle in the last few years. A whole bunch of tinted window SUVs roaring along on a residential street at doing at least sixty in a 20-25 mph zone. They had an entire shift’s worth of King Co Sheriff’s officers (most were SPD I was just using the numbers as an example). At the speeds they were traveling if some kid had chased a ball into the road he would have gotten clipped. Of course most kids play X Box not outdoors these days.

    Twenty some years before that I got stuck inside the perimeter for VP Bush the Elder. It was inside Boeing field so they did not have as far to travel but he was meeting a big wig from China. One guy held me where I was until they got him into his vehicle. No big motorcade, one or two black limos like folks rented for weddings (at least they looked that way). Really no big deal considering I essentially surprised them by popping into an area they thought was secure with a pick up truck full of who knows what in the back.

  16. rjp says:

    While I don’t think AF1 needs to go, it sure as shouldn’t be at Michelle Antoinette’s beck and call. The arrogance displayed by the current regime is quite offensive. That Michelle has a staff of 20+ is representative of how important they think they are. If we weren’t paying for it I doubt she would have even one illegal Mexican housekeeper.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Wow, Razib was just commenting on the Scots-Irish strain in America, and it pops out here full force. Nothing like it smells so bad- the intense urge to rip down the folks in charge, because they ain’t like us. The folks in charge have always had a lot more than the common people, and yet this leveler strain just never fades, after so many centuries.

    Sounds like this could be a discussion from 1630 to me.

    • Robert King says:

      Anon: You mean at about the time when smart people were starting to think that there were better ways of running things that massive privilege inequities? I would be proud to be associated with the levellers.

      • Anonymous says:

        I note you teach at LSE, living under the old English Aristocracy, which managed a big return after Cromwell won his revolution.

        Inequality returned big time.

        I see you are up at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heriot-Watt for the summer.

        Game, set, and match.

        My point about the inability of the Scots-Irish to stand any heirarchy beyond their immediate clan stands undiminished.

        Did ja vote SNP?

      • Robert King says:

        At Anon. Not only are you not a checkable entity but you have used the term “game set and match” which marks you out as a noob. What next? “Checkmate, atheist!” But since I am in the mood to mock you–go and look up the term “non sequitur”, dimwit. Just because I live in a monarchy does not make me a monarchist. You live in a country and that doesnt make you a…actually, no–it probably does.

  18. j mct says:

    The plane thing is a bit much, but I’d think that the whole presidential library thing would be a better thing to go after. I’ve never been to a presidential library (I’ve been to Mount Vernon, but I do not think that would the same), but I’ve watched video of going to one, and it seems that each library is filled with displays about the great man, and the great things he did, no matter who it is. Usually he’s buried there too. Just like Karnak. Presidential libraries are not merely imperial, they are pharonic! Louis XIV would have thought that a bit much.,

  19. erica says:

    “Wow, Razib was just commenting on the Scots-Irish strain in America, and it pops out here full force. Nothing like it smells so bad- the intense urge to rip down the folks in charge, because they ain’t like us. ”
    You bet the guy in charge isn’t like me: I could whip his behind any day in golf. As much as he plays, he really ought to take some lessons from a decent guru. Hank Haney could help him.

    I also think I could deliver a better speech. Paint me black and people would listen.

  20. mindy minsky says:

    I am quite new to this part of the internet, so I haven’t had as much time as i’d need to concretely understand the various concepts that lend support to this ideology.

    I was wondering if one of you more learned readers could tell me if my understanding of the Lewontin fallacy is correct.

    This is how I understand it:

    There is a correlation between allele frequency at different Loci for a particular geographic population.

    So if an individual has one allele, then he probably has another allele at another locus, and another, and another, etc..

    On a population level, if the frequency of an allele is X, then the frequency of another allele at another Locus can be predicted by x and so on.

    I also understand that one cannot simply compare the between with the difference because the effect of alleles is not equal.

  21. dan3487kurt says:

    @gchochrane “The deficit is big mainly because tax revenues have collapsed ”

    Really? Seems to me profligrate spending is the real culprit, spending currently but mostly promised and off budget, so called “sacred” entitlements. Please watch the following short video, even only the first 2.5 minutes:
    http://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/EW5IdwltaAc?rel=0

    Dan Kurt

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