Propaganda posters: J. C. Leyendecker’s Uncle Sam at bat (fit for August)

July 28, 2012

Get in the game with Uncle Sam, WWI poster by J. C. Leyendecker, Museum of Play image

“Get in the Game with Uncle Sam” poster from World War I, by J. C. Leyendecker in 1917 — image from National Museum of Play

No matter how much the Texas State Board of Education wishes to run away from America’s heritage, we can’t.

Nor should we want to.

Propaganda is not a bad word.  There is bad propaganda, stuff that doesn’t work.  There is propaganda for bad purposes, stuff that promotes bad policies, or evil.  But good propaganda is stronger, long-lasting, often full of great artistic merit, and instructive.

Images of Uncle Sam provide clear pictures of what Americans were thinking, from the oldest versions to today.

This poster above is a World War I poster designed to convince Americans to get involved in the war effort.  J. C. Leyendecker, a noted illustrator, cast Uncle Sam as a baseball player up to bat.  The poster says simply, “Get in the game with Uncle Sam.”  Perhaps uniquely, this poster showed Sam in yellow-striped pants, instead of the more traditional red-striped.  Could an artist take such liberty today?

Nicolas Ricketts at the Strong Museum of National Play offered a good, concise description of the politics and history of the poster at the blog for the Museum (links added for your convenience):

Meanwhile, then-president Woodrow Wilson, who had won reelection in 1916 on an anti-war platform, faced the need for American participation in the terrible “Great War” raging in Europe. He and his cabinet knew that American involvement loomed. But how could the government convince the American public that this was necessary? One idea was to create a poster that urged Americans to metaphorically “Get in the Game,” along with their patriotic national symbol, Uncle Sam.

Artist J. C. Leyendecker (1874-1951) designed the poster, commissioned by the Publicity Committee of the Citizens Preparedness Association, a pro-war organization with federal support which also sponsored “preparedness parades” and other nationalistic activities. Leyendecker himself emigrated from Germany at age eight and was approaching the pinnacle of his career in 1917 when he created this work.

The poster just preceded James Montgomery Flagg’s famous “I Want You” image of Uncle Sam, which later became the best-known likeness of the country’s unofficial symbol. Leyendecker’s version, in spite of his baseball bat, is possibly less affable to contemporary eyes than Flagg’s friendlier Sam. But the bat he holds connected him to many Americans, who perhaps then decided that America should “get in the game.”

Some of this older propaganda had a humorous twist I think is too often missing from modern posters.  It was more effective for that, I think.

The image of Sam at bat shows up in many places in the internet world, but most often stripped of its identifying links to Leyendecker.  That does disservice to the art, to history, and to Leyendecker, who was one of our nation’s better illustrators for a very long time.

Visit the National Museum of Play in Rochester, New York.

More posters, almost random, found through Zemanta:

English: Uncle Sam recruiting poster.

The most famous Uncle Sam recruiting poster, by James Montgomery Flagg (1917). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

James Montgomery Flagg 1917 poster: "Boys...

James Montgomery Flagg 1917 poster: “Boys and girls! You can help your Uncle Sam win the war – save your quarters, buy War Savings Stamps” / James Montgomery Flagg . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


“Fighting to prevent this,” still – World War II poster

June 17, 2012

Think American Institute. “We’re Fighting to Prevent This.” Rochester, New York: Kelly Read, 1943. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

Think American Institute. “We’re Fighting to Prevent This.” Rochester, New York: Kelly Read, 1943. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

Both Republicans and Democrats might make a claim on this poster, today.

Propaganda for patriots, from World War II, from collections now held by the Library of Congress.


U.S. government propaganda circa 1943: “Don’t be a sucker”

January 22, 2012

If only the Republican Party still subscribed to these all-American, egalitarian values  . . .  A few sources say the film was intended to be an anti-racism film after the desegregation of the U.S. armed forces by President Harry Truman, and was not intended for general public viewing.  (Is it fair to say this is secret stuff?)  The Internet Movie DataBase (IMDB) said the film was made in 1943, and reissued by the Defense Department later; good movies stay fresh:

Financed and produced by the United States War Department, and shot at the Warners [Bros.] studio, although it was distributed through all of the major studios’ film exchanges and also by National Screen Services free to the theatre exhibitors: A young, healthy American Free Mason is taken in by the message of a soap-box orator who asserts that all good jobs in the United States are being taken by the so-called minorities, domestic and foreign. He falls into a conversation with a refugee professor who tells him of the pattern of events that brought Hitler to power in Germany and how Germany’s anti-democratic groups split the country into helpless minorities, each hating the other. The professor concludes by pointing out that America is composed of many minorities, but all are united as Americans. (Reissued in 1946 following the end of World War II.) (Written by Les Adams)

From the Department of Defense in 1943 and 1946, “Don’t Be a Sucker,” about 18 minutes:

More, resources: 


Christy World War I poster to fetch more than $400 at auction

January 6, 2012

That’s a safe bet — the bid at the moment at Heritage Auctions is at $450.  How much is it worth?

Howard Chandler Christy World War I poster, 1918 - Third Liberty Loan - Heritage Auctions image

Howard Chandler Christy poster from 1918, for the Third Liberty Loan to finance World War I - Heritage Auctions image

Heritage Auctions describes the poster:

World War I Propaganda Poster by Howard Chandler Christy (Forbes, 1918). Third Liberty Loan Poster (20″ X 30″) “Fight or Buy Bonds.” War.
Howard Chandler Christy was so good at illustrating iconic beautiful women in uniquely styled poster art, that they soon became known as “Christy Girls.” He used some of these images to sell war bonds during WW I. His lovely art was instrumental in raising countless millions for the war effort. An unrestored poster with good color and an overall very presentable appearance. It may have tears, pinholes, edge wear, wrinkling, slight paper loss, and minor stains. Please see full-color, enlargeable image below for more details. Rolled, Fine+.

Posters from the wars are great teaching tools.  I tell my students to watch to see if their parents or grandparents have any of these old posters lying around.  $450 would buy books for a semester at college.

Heritage Auctions plans to sell this poster, and many others, this coming Sunday, January 8.


Cold War propaganda: “Make Mine Freedom,” 1948

October 10, 2011

Designed to promote democracy versus communism, and free enterprise (capitalism) over communism’s totalitarian governments then in vogue in the Eastern Bloc, this film was targeted to young college students who did not have the opportunity to fight for freedom in World War II.  “Make Mine Freedom” was produced by Harding College in 1948, preserved by the Prelinger Archives.

Is it a bit heavy handed? Is this an accurate portrait of economic or political freedom?  Are the characters in this animated short movie quite stereotyped?

In Blogylvania, the movie has been seized on as a sort of parable for our times.  Those bloggers who say it is a parable see a lot more in the movie than I do.  Almost any Lewis Hine photograph of child labor should be a good rebuttal.  Some say it seemed far-fetched in 1948 (then why did anyone bother to make it?).  It’s much, much more far-fetched now.

It’s a good departure point for discussions about propaganda in the Cold War.

Harding College resides in Searcy, Arkansas, and is affiliated with the Church of Christ.  It is now Harding University.


Propaganda posters: J. C. Leyendecker’s Uncle Sam at bat

August 28, 2011

 

Get in the game with Uncle Sam, WWI poster by J. C. Leyendecker, Museum of Play image

“Get in the Game with Uncle Sam” poster from World War I, by J. C. Leyendecker — image from National Museum of Play

No matter how much the Texas State Board of Education wishes to run away from America’s heritage, we can’t.

Nor should we want to.

Propaganda is not a bad word.  There is bad propaganda, stuff that doesn’t work.  There is propaganda for bad purposes, stuff that promotes bad policies, or evil.  But good propaganda is stronger, long-lasting, often full of great artistic merit, and instructive.

Images of Uncle Sam provide clear pictures of what Americans were thinking, from the oldest versions to today.

This poster above is a World War I poster designed to convince Americans to get involved in the war effort.  J. C. Leyendecker, a noted illustrator, casts Uncle Sam as a baseball player up to bat.  The poster says simply, “Get in the game with Uncle Sam.”  Perhaps uniquely, this poster showed Sam in yellow-striped pants, instead of the more traditional red-striped.  Could an artist take such liberty today?

Nicolas Ricketts at the Strong Museum of National Play offered a good, concise description of the politics and history of the poster at the blog for the Museum:

Meanwhile, then-president Woodrow Wilson, who had won reelection in 1916 on an anti-war platform, faced the need for American participation in the terrible “Great War” raging in Europe. He and his cabinet knew that American involvement loomed. But how could the government convince the American public that this was necessary? One idea was to create a poster that urged Americans to metaphorically “Get in the Game,” along with their patriotic national symbol, Uncle Sam.

Artist J. C. Leyendecker (1874-1951) designed the poster, commissioned by the Publicity Committee of the Citizens Preparedness Association, a pro-war organization with federal support which also sponsored “preparedness parades” and other nationalistic activities. Leyendecker himself emigrated from Germany at age eight and was approaching the pinnacle of his career in 1917 when he created this work.

The poster just preceded James Montgomery Flagg’s famous “I Want You” image of Uncle Sam, which later became the best-known likeness of the country’s unofficial symbol. Leyendecker’s version, in spite of his baseball bat, is possibly less affable to contemporary eyes than Flagg’s friendlier Sam. But the bat he holds connected him to many Americans, who perhaps then decided that America should “get in the game.”

Some of this older propaganda had a humorous twist I think is too often missing from modern posters.  It was more effective for that, I think.

The image of Sam at bat shows up in many places in the internet world, but most often stripped of its identifying links to Leyendecker.  That does disservice to the art, to history, and to Leyendecker, who was one of our nation’s better illustrators for a very long time.

Visit the National Museum of Play in Rochester, New York.

 


Sideshow of DDT and malaria

August 23, 2011

Not exactly a DDT/Malaria carnival.  Just enough for a sideshow.

First, the controversy over use of DDT in Uganda continues, even as DDT is applied daily there.  This demonstrates that DDT remains freely available for use in Africa.  It also demonstrates that Africans are not clamoring for more DDT.

Uganda offers a key proving ground for the propaganda campaign against environmentalists, against scientist, against medical care officials, and for DDT.  Though malaria plagues Uganda today and has done so for the past 200 years at least, it was not a target of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) campaign to eradicate malaria in the 1950s and 1960s, because the nation lacked the governmental structures to mount an effective campaign.  DDT was used to temporarily knock down mosquito populations, so that medical care could be improved quickly and malaria cured among humans.  Then, when the mosquitoes came roaring back as they always do with DDT, there would be no pool of the disease in humans from which the mosquitoes could get infected.  End of malaria problem.

Plus, for a too-long period of time, Uganda was ruled by the brutal dictator Idi Amin.  No serious anti-malaria campaigns could be conducted there, then.

Uganda today exports cotton and tobacco.  Cotton and tobacco interests claim they cannot allow any DDT use, because, they claim, European Union rules would then require that the tobacco and cotton imports be banned from Europe.  I can’t find any rules that require such a ban, and there are precious few incidents that suggest trace DDT residues would be a problem, but this idea contributes to the political turmoil in Uganda.  Businessmen there sued to stop the use of even the small amounts of DDT used for indoor residual spraying (IRS) in modern campaigns.  They lost.  DDT use continues in Uganda, with no evidence that more DDT would help a whit.

Malaria campaign posters from World War II, South Pacific - Mother Jones compilation

Much of the anti-malaria campaign aimed at soldiers, to convince them to use Atabrine, a preventive drug, or to use nets, or just to stay covered up at night, to prevent mosquito bites. Mother Jones compilation of posters and photos.

Second, the website for Mother Jones magazine includes a wonderful 12-slide presentation on DDT in history.  Malaria took out U.S. troops more effectively than the Japanese in some assaults in World War II.  DDT appeared to be a truly great miracle when it was used on some South Pacific islands.  Particularly interesting are the posters trying to get soldiers to help prevent the disease, some done by the World War II-ubiquitous Dr. Seuss.  Good history, there.  Warning:  Portrayals of Japanese are racist by post-War standards.

Third, a new book takes a look at the modern campaigns against malaria, those that use tactics other than DDT.  These campaigns have produced good results, leading some to hope for control of malaria, and leading Bill Gates, one of the biggest investors in anti-malaria campaigns, to kindle hopes of malaria eradication again.  Here is the New York Times  review of  Alex Perry’s Lifeblood: How to Change the World One Dead Mosquito at a Time (PublicAffairs, $25.99).   Perry is chief Africa correspondent for Time Magazine.

This little gem of a book heartens the reader by showing how eagerly an array of American billionaires, including Bill Gates and the New Jersey investor Ray Chambers (the book’s protagonist), are using concepts of efficient management to improve the rest of the world. “Lifeblood” nominally chronicles the global effort to eradicate malaria, but it is really about changes that Mr. Chambers, Mr. Gates and others are bringing to the chronically mismanaged system of foreign aid, especially in Africa.

These three snippets of reporting, snapshots of the worldwide war on malaria, all diverge dramatically from the usual false claims we see that, but for ‘environmentalist’s unholy and unjust war on DDT,’ millions or billions of African children could have been saved from death by malaria.

The real stories are more complex, less strident, and ultimately more hopeful.


Green Hell? Milloy slanders Ruckelshaus as “mass murderer”

March 10, 2011

This week, EPA bashing took front and center on the performance stage that passes as Congress these days.  There is a school of thought that thinks EPA should be eviscerated because EPA is carrying out the mandate an earlier Congress gave it, to clean up the air.  Especially, the recent assailants claim, EPA should not try to reduce carbon emissions, because clean air might cost something.

Steven Milloy, making stuff up and passing it as fact

Steven Milloy, who makes crude and false claims against William Ruckelshaus, a great lawyer and the hero of the Saturday Night Massacre. Why does Milloy carry such a pathetic grudge?

Wholly apart from the merits, or great lack of merits to those arguments, the anti-EPA crowd is just ugly.

78-year-old William Ruckelshaus, the Hero of the Saturday Night Massacre, a distinguished lawyer and businessman, and the founding Director of EPA who was called back to clean it up after the Reagan administration scandals, granted an interview on EPA bashing to Remapping Debate, an ambitious, independent blog from the Columbia School of Journalism designed to provide information essential to policy debates that too-often gets overlooked or buried.  [Remapping Debate sent a note that they are not affiliated with CSJ; my apologies for the error.]

Ruckelshaus, as always, gave gentlemanly answers to questions about playing politics with science, and bashing good, honest and diligent government workers as a method of political discourse.

Steven Milloy, one of the great carbuncles on the face of climate debate or any science issue, assaulted Ruckelshaus at Milloy’s angry, bitter blog, Green Hell.  Milloy calls Ruckelshaus “a mass-murderer,” a clear invitation for someone to attack the man. Milloy wrote, cravenly:

He’s the 20th century’s only mass murderer to survive and thrive (as a venture capitalist) in the 21st century.

Milloy owes Ruckelshaus an apology and a complete retraction.  I rather hope Ruckelshaus sues — while Milloy will claim the standards under New York Times vs. Sullivan as a defense, because Ruckelshaus is a public figure, I think the only question a jury would have to deal with is how much malice aforethought Milloy exhibits.  Malice is obvious.  Heck, there might not even be a question for a jury — Milloy loses on the law (nothing he claims against Ruckelshaus is accurate or true in any way).

This is much more damning than what got two NPR officials to lose their jobs.

Who will stand up for justice here?  Rep. Upton?  Rep. Boehner?  Anthony Watts?

I tried to offer a correction, and since then have written Milloy demanding an apology and retraction — neither comment has surfaced yet on Milloy’s blog.  Here’s the truth Milloy hasn’t printed:

No, Sweeney did not rule that DDT is not a threat to the environment. He said quite the opposite. Sweeney wrote, in his ruling:

20. DDT can have a deleterious effect on freshwater fish and estuarine organisms when directly applied to the water.

21. DDT is used as a rodenticide. [DDT was used to kill bats in homes and office buildings; this was so effective that, coupled with accidental dosing of bats from their eating insects carrying DDT, it actually threatened to wipe out some species of bat in the southwest U.S.]

22. DDT can have an adverse effect on beneficial animals.

23. DDT is concentrated in organisms and can be transferred through food chains.

On that basis, two federal courts ruled that DDT must be taken off the market completely. Sweeney agreed with the findings of the courts precisely, but he determined that the law did not give him the power to order DDT off the market since the newly-proposed labels of the DDT manufacturers restricted use to emergency health-related tasks. With the benefit of rereading the two federal courts’ decisions, Ruckelshaus noted that the courts said the power was already in the old law, and definitely in the new law. [See, for example, EDF v. Ruckelshaus, 439 F. 2d 584 (1971)]

DDT was banned from use on crops in the U.S. as an ecosystem killer. It still is an ecosystem killer, and it still deserves to be banned.

Ruckelshaus’s order never traveled outside the U.S. DDT has never been banned in most nations of the world, and even though DDT has earned a place on the list of Dirty Dozen most dangerous pollutants, even under the Persistent Organic Pollutants Treaty of 2001, DDT is available for use to any country who wishes to use it.

Please get your facts straight.

Would you, Dear Reader,  help spread the word on Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, or any other service you have, that the Brown Lobby has gone too far in it’s error-based propaganda against clean air and those who urge a better environment?  Please?


Tea Party history, Texas textbook version

July 21, 2010

A mostly historically accurate view of history of Tea Party-like movements:

Tip of the old scrub brush to Unreasonable Faith and earthaid.


Colorado legislature says ‘bring the USS Pueblo home’

February 4, 2010

It’s a story about a series of the grandest and bravest hoaxes by U.S. soldiers held in extremely hostile enemy prisons.  Coloradans, especially those from the city of Pueblo, the namesake of the ship, have not forgotten.

U.S.S. Pueblo, moored in Pyongyang, Peoples Republic of Korea - Wikipedia image

U.S.S. Pueblo, moored in Pyong Yang, Peoples Republic of Korea where the North Koreans try to exploit their capture of the ship by offering tours - Wikipedia image

Spurred by its members from Pueblo, the Colorado state legislature passed a resolution on Monday asking the U.S. government to ask North Korea to return the U.S.S. Pueblo to the U.S.  The spyship was captured, probably illegally, in 1968 with Capt. Lloyd Bucher and his crew, with the loss of one crewman’s life in the capture skirmish.

North Korea (more formally known as the Peoples Republic of Korea or PRK) held Bucher and his crew eleven months in that tragic year of 1968.  The crew were tortured, but PRK finally agreed to release them in December.

During their capture the crew had signed hoax confessions that, while wildly embarrassing to the PRK, got the crew in hot water when they returned to the U.S.

Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub officially and formally approves of any legislative action honoring the captain and crew of the Pueblo, and would like to see the ship returned.

Earlier stories on the Pueblo and its capture:

An account in Korea Times suggests North Korea seized the Pueblo simply to save face after a disastrous attempt to assassinate the president of South Korea.

The entire story about the legislative resolution, from the Pueblo Chieftan, is below the fold.

Read the rest of this entry »


Newtongate shakes anthropogenically-generated mathematics at the foundation

November 22, 2009

Satire, hoax, fact — how can we tell the difference?

Maybe more importantly, how can we tell early on that the “Climategate” kerfuffle, involving purloined, but otherwise dull e-mails from climate scientists, is nothing to worry about?

Look at history!  Remember Newtongate?  Read it here, at Carbon Fixated.

If you own any shares in companies that produce reflecting telescopes, use differential and integral calculus, or rely on the laws of motion, I should start dumping them NOW. The conspiracy behind the calculus myth has been suddenly, brutally and quite deliciously exposed after volumes of Newton’s private correspondence were compiled and published.

When you read some of these letters, you realise just why Newton and his collaborators might have preferred to keep them confidential. This scandal could well be the biggest in Renaissance science. These alleged letters – supposedly exchanged by some of the most prominent scientists behind really hard math lessons – suggest:

Conspiracy, collusion in covering up the truth, manipulation of data, private admissions of flaws in their public claims and much more.

But perhaps the most damaging revelations are those concerning the way these math nerd scientists may variously have manipulated or suppressed evidence to support their cause.

What kind of conspiracy keeps calculus being taught to innocent children today?  Exactly the same conspiracy that causes scientists to sound the alarms about climate change.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Tim Lambert at Deltoid.


The birth of death panels in the unprincipled opposition to improving health care in America

November 16, 2009

Heckuva story.  Earl Blumenauer is the man responsible for the language in H.R. 3200 that Sarah Palin erroneously claimed created “death panels.”

He’s a Congressman from Oregon.

In Saturday’s New York Times he detailed how critics hijacked the debate with false claims.  Fascinating story.

A very odd result:  Because of the false claims, a provision to help people plan to avoid death panels was stricken from health care reform proposals.  More citizens will face death panel-like decisions as a result.

Previously I thought Orwell was convoluted.


Quote of the moment: Eric Blair (George Orwell) on lies becoming history

October 25, 2009

George Orwell (Eric Blair) on cover of Time Magazine, Novmber 28, 1983

George Orwell (Eric Blair) on cover of Time Magazine, Novmber 28, 1983

And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed—if all records told the same tale—then the lie passed into history and became truth. ‘Who controls the past’ ran the Party slogan, ‘controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.’

— George Orwell, 1984

Tip of the old scrub brush to Kate at The Urban Primate

If Big Brother is watching, why not let him watch all of us? Spread the word:

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Cato Institute jumps shark

October 1, 2009

Do we really need proof the political right has run out of ideas? How about the Cato Institute’s jumping the shark?

Newish widget link to Cato Institute

Newish widget link to Cato Institute

Oh, hell, they may have jumped it earlier — I don’t track Cato as a rule, because they come up with so much silly stuff.

This button, above, goes beyond simple ideological purification claims, though.  It’s propaganda pure and simple, based on how they hope to scare people, and not based on even their own claims.

Worse, I suspect they know it.  No plan puts the government in the health care biz.  An accurate propaganda piece would have Uncle Sam in the insurance company’s garb.  That might convince people to support the plan, though, I reckon, so Cato went for a scarier, less accurate version.

Cato Institute spokesman preparing for television interview on health care reform?

Cato Institute spokesman preparing for television interview on health care reform?

We’ll need to watch to see whether Ted McGinley joins the staff of policy analysts at Cato.

Gun the boat, be sure to clear the shark:

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Wirtism? Summer political crazies explained in history

August 30, 2009

Santayana’s Ghost has been restless these past two months.  Now we know why:  Summer 2009 replayed summer 1934.

Micheal Hiltzik explained it in a column in the Los Angeles Times:

To me they’re merely the latest examples of a phenomenon that might be called Wirtism.

If you find the term unfamiliar, that’s because I just coined it to honor the memory of William A. Wirt. Wirt’s day in the sun came back in 1934, when the obscure Midwestern blowhard placed himself at the center of a political maelstrom by “discovering” a plot by members of Franklin Roosevelt’s Brain Trust to launch a Bolshevik takeover of the United States.

That Wirt’s yarn was transparently absurd didn’t keep it from being taken seriously on the front pages of newspapers coast to coast, including the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times. He gave speeches, wrote a book and went to Washington to give personal testimony at a standing-room-only congressional hearing.

If that reminds you of the overly solicitous treatment given by the press, cable news programs and Republican office holders to purveyors of such lurid claptrap as the Obama birth certificate story or the fantasy of healthcare “death panels,” now you know why it pays to study history.

How did it end?  Not soon enough, or well enough, but it ended:

“Roosevelt is only the Kerensky of this revolution,” he quoted them. (Kerensky was the provisional leader of Russia just before the 1917 Bolshevik revolution.) The hoodwinked president would be permitted to stay in office, they said, “until we are ready to supplant him with a Stalin.”

Those words caused an immediate sensation. Wirt hedged on naming the treasonous “Brain Trusters” — which only intensified the public mania. Into the vacuum of information poured supposition masquerading as fact (certainly a familiar phenomenon today). This newspaper, then a pillar of Republicanism, gave Wirt the benefit of the doubt on the grounds that “the activities of the ‘brain trust’ during the past year fit neatly into the Communistic scheme” he described — a reminder that the most potent fabrications are those that confirm what the listener wants to believe.

For that’s what Wirt’s story was — a fabrication. Hauled before Congress, he said he heard of the plot during a party at a friend’s home in Virginia. The other guests, mostly low-level government employees without any connection to the Brain Trust, subsequently testified that none of them could have mentioned Kerensky or Stalin even if they wished, because Wirt monopolized the dinner-table conversation with a four-hour harangue about monetary policy.

Now you know.  So don’t act stupidly.


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