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Looking back at 2012 – What was the biggest event? What was your favorite quote?

24 December 2012

Summary:  It’s too easy to let the years blur by.  To help us remember and cherish 2012, post in the comments your favorite quotes from the 2012 news — and what 2012 event had the greatest long-term importance.

It’s a challenge to our readers!  This could be interesting, but isn’t something I do well. Here are some suggestions to start the game.

(1)  Two great quotes  from today’s news

From the New York Post, 22 December 2012 — lots of quotes like this in 2012:

Legendary advertising guru Jerry Della Femina is the latest Hamptons fat cat to unload his East End spread at the precipice of the dreaded fiscal cliff.  The flamboyant Madison Avenue guru has sold his 8,500-square-foot estate — the host of many legendary bashes — for $25 million, and blames his flight squarely on President Obama’s fiscal policies.

I’m basically the loser in Obama’s class warfare. That’s what this boils down to. If Romney was elected, we would have had our parties in East Hampton this year. … I want the proceeds of this sale to go to my kids and my grandkids. I don’t want my money going to Obama, and that’s what’s going to happen in the New Year. That’s why I sold right now, that’s why I wanted to get this done.

He purchased the home 35 years ago for a $3 million, and estimated that he invested roughly $6 million in bringing it to its current glory. “I still did pretty well,” Della Femina chuckled.

From Jon Hussman’s “Aspirin for a Broken Femur“, 24 December 2012 (He was Prof Economics at U MI, now runs the Hussman Funds):

Since 2009 … the broad U.S. economy has been dependent on perpetual support from massive federal deficits and unprecedented money creation. Meanwhile, Wall Street is content to ignore the extent of this support, and looks on every movement of the economy as a sign of intrinsic health – which is a lot like admiring the graceful flight of a dead parrot swinging by a string from the ceiling fan.

(2)  My nominee for the most important story

2012 was just more of the same old same old.  Trends in motion, stayed in motion.

Here’s a idea for the big one of 2012: the year the Republicans went mad.  Or, perhaps, it was the year it became obvious to the rest of us. Or perhaps clear to the slow class among us (eg, moi).  For an example see “Blues Cruise: Steaming past Guantánamo, en route to the Cayman Islands, a boatload of Republicans ponder the plight of a party at sea.”, Joe Hagan, NY Magazine.

(3)  Off-topic:  history on this day in 1972 that should not be forgotten

From Jared Bernstein’s blog:

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… after the arrests at the Watergate, Howard Hunt went back to his office in the White House — he still had access — and deposited a variety of Watergate and Plumbers materials into it. The safe was then opened by John Dean, who turned over what he thought was safe to the FBI investigators — and then put some of the materials into a sealed envelope and gave it to acting FBI Director L. Patrick Gray.

Gray took the materials to his home in Connecticut, and around this time he decided to destroy it all.

Meanwhile, Dean had held on to Hunt’s incriminating notebooks, and Dean destroyed them, too, at about this time — after Hunt’s lawyers had let prosecutors know about them, at which point the prosecutors realized that they hadn’t been given all the evidence. Dean told the prosecutors that national security materials had been given to Gray, who denied receiving any of it.

The other event during this general time period happens because Nixon decides to replace Richard Helms at the CIA (he became ambassador to Iran). Helms, clearing out his files, took the photo of the Plumbers break-in at Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatrist’s office and gave them to the Watergate prosecutors, who had no idea what they were — but did identify Gordon Liddy in one of them.

The cover-up, which had held so well through the election, was starting to cave in on multiple fronts. With the first criminal trial scheduled for the new year, the pressure was only increasing on everyone. And there was still no backup plan in case any part of their story collapsed.

For More Information — other posts about History

See the full listing at the FM Reference Page about History – economic, military and geopolitical.

Some lessons from history:

  1. From the 3rd century BC, Polybius warns us about demographic collapse, 11 June 2008
  2. President Grant warns us about the dangers of national hubris, 1 July 2008
  3. A lesson from the Weimar Republic about balancing the budget, 10 February 2010
  4. A great philosopher and statesman comments on the Bush-Obama tweaks to the Constitution, 10 October 2010 — by Edmond Burke
  5. We have trouble coping with our present because we’ve lost our past, 23 October 2010
  6. A top businessman and banker explains our political and economic challenges, 30 April 2011
  7. A warning from the past.  Might the American Empire drag down America?, 4 August 2011
  8. Advice from one of the British Empire’s greatest Foreign Ministers, 18 November 2011 — by Lord Palmerston
  9. George Orwell sends us a note, giving some perspective on our situation, 22 January 2012
  10. Lessons for America from the Russo-Japanese War, 4 February 2012
  11. Rome speaks to us. Their example can inspire us to avoid their fate., 22 April 2012
  12. We’re drifting towards tyranny, again. Jefferson describes our first brush with tyranny., 28 April 2012
  13. Are we following in the footsteps of Athens? Let’s leave the path before we come to the same end., 3 May 2012

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31 Comments leave one →
  1. 24 December 2012 4:00 pm

    Thanks for reminding me of this. Twenty years ago I attended a seminar at Connecticut College. The speakers I remember were Jerry Della Femina and McGeorge Bundy. Della Femina started in the mail room of an advertising agency right out of high school and worked his way up to running his own agency. Bundy had taken a traditional educational path and had been President of Harvard College at age 35 and JFK’s National Security Advisor. Both came to the same conclusion, that the way to “success” in this country was to take safe and stultifying college courses and get into a safe and stultifying graduate school. And to paraphrase Della Femina, “I hire these graduates of Harvard and Yale and none of them can make a difficult decision because none of them ever has.”

    Like

  2. 24 December 2012 4:41 pm

    “I’m basically the loser in Obama’s class warfare. That’s what this boils down to. If Romney was elected, we would have had our parties in East Hampton this year. … I want the proceeds of this sale to go to my kids and my grandkids. I don’t want my money going to Obama, and that’s what’s going to happen in the New Year. That’s why I sold right now, that’s why I wanted to get this done.”

    ‘Della Femina’ sounds like the perfect last name for him. Listen to this butt-hurt whiny little cry baby. Well at least that’s something the 100% have in common.

    Like

    • Mikyo permalink
      26 December 2012 1:45 am

      Wow. Thanks. The cruising pundits seems less enviable now. LOL.

      Like

  3. 24 December 2012 4:46 pm

    We likely won’t know the answer in our lifetime. Very likely the right answer is in the realm of science, but it could be the birth of a prophet destined to change our understanding of man’s place in the universe.

    If I had to pick one based on the limits of our current vision, its clearly the advent of commercial space flight with the landing of the Dragon capsule. Centuries from now this may be looked upon as man’s first step to the stars.

    http://www.spacex.com/crs1.php

    Like

    • 24 December 2012 7:25 pm

      Slater,

      Doesn’t Apollo get credit for our first step to the stars, albeit of a false dawn kind?

      I cannot imagine a future American history in which Kennedy’s May 1961 speech does not get top billing!

      Unless, of course, another nation takes the lead during the 21 century. Perhaps using some new tech (eg, ion drive powered by a fusion generator). In which case America’s early space history becomes a footnote. Much like Portugal’s early role in the age of exploration, with Kennedy forgotten like the 15th century Prince Henry the Navigator.

      Like

    • 24 December 2012 7:39 pm

      Depends on whether progress is driven by government mandates or by human initiative. More specifically space exploration is currently constrained by governmental budgets. The move to privately funding space exploration provides promise for self funding of exploration: e.g. mines on the moon or in the asteroid belt. Once that’s proven to work space exploration can become exponential.

      Like

    • 24 December 2012 9:55 pm

      “Depends on whether progress is driven by government mandates or by human initiative.”

      Wow. “Human initiative” or “government”. Perhaps all that progress by governments was done by robots.

      Most of America’s transportation infrastructure was built by government “initiative” (eg, form the Erie Canal, the transcontinental RR, the Panama Canal, the interstate highways). Much of its electrical infrastructure. Atomic power. Space program. Water, sewage, and public health systems (which collectively probably have had greater impact on well-being than any other engineering works of the past 200 years). The internet (to a large extent by DARPA and other government-funded research). Much of the post-WWII innovations in medicine. etc, etc.

      It takes a heavy set of ideological filters to remain blind to these things. It’s a triumph of another private initiative, the Right’s sustained campaign of propaganda.

      Like

  4. Breton permalink
    24 December 2012 5:23 pm

    Like FM I would say 2012 is typified by “none”; trends steady as she goes.
    Most however will ignore it or rather not wish to openly discuss this.

    Americaa took a wrong turn awhile back; she ignored the sign on the right:

    ROAD CLOSED AHEAD.

    Breton

    Like

  5. 24 December 2012 8:09 pm

    I suppose there should be something else… but the most striking thing I can recall is that a man who had “one-term president” written all over him was re-elected because the opposition party couldn’t find reality with a bloodhound and a searchlight.

    In the course of the final week of this year our Federal Government will probably fail to avert the so-called “fiscal cliff,” thereby demonstrating that politics have rendered it so dysfunctional that it cannot solve even problems that it created for itself, let alone undertake actual governance.

    Like

  6. 24 December 2012 8:43 pm

    The Woman Who Would Save Football“, Grantland, 17 August 2012 — “Dr. Ann McKee has been accused of trying to kill the sport she loves, but she may be its only hope”

    What Does Tau Protein Have to Do with Football, Dementia, and Suicide?“, Promega Connections, 17 March 2012

    This is a story I’ve been following lately, and that is the effect of concussions on the brain and their connection to suicides in the NFL. It doesn’t really count as a 2012 issue, but it’s been slowly building and this year an important new study did come out. From what I’ve been reading, the effect of concussion on the brain or possibly even small impacts that don’t cause concussion can trigger a dementia, similar to Alzheimer’s, that can result in violent behavior. People with this kind of brain damage lose the ability to judge right from wrong or control impulses. It’s not a moral choice, their brains are broken and they literally cannot control themselves.

    Furthermore, Dave Duerson may have suspected something was wrong with his brain when, shortly before his suicide, he left messages to his family saying, “Please, see that my brain is given to the NFL’s brain bank.”

    Is there a new brain disease on the horizon that is causing football players to commit suicide? Amazingly, yes. Evidence is accumulating that football players, boxers, and other sports athletes have an increased chance of developing a condition called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a neurodegenerative condition instigated not by old age or genetics, but by injury to the brain. The majority of CTE cases express themselves via behavioral and emotional changes such as depression, antisocial behavior, lack of impulse control, and fiscal and legal irresponsibility.

    Really, the NFL is just the most visible tip of the iceberg. There’s all these kids playing high school football, and then there are the veterans with injuries in Iraq from the IED’s.

    If your children want to play football or hockey read up on CTE and concussions first. The long term consequences are not good. My thinking, don’t let them play a sport that includes impacts the brain.

    Like

    • 24 December 2012 9:13 pm

      Cathryn,

      Thanks for bringing this up. It seems to have hit critical mass in 2012 (or at least, the first time I heard of it).

      I find it horrible that this has been ignored for so long as an issue for children and college players.

      Like

    • guest permalink
      24 December 2012 10:16 pm

      Interestingly, a link was established a few years ago in soccer between the frequent blows given to lower limbs and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

      Football, soccer, hockey, rugby, etc, are not sports — they are _games_ and should therefore not be played that earnestly.

      Like

    • 25 December 2012 3:20 am

      It seems like there is some kind of link between dementia and ALS, and if you google FTD and ALS you’ll find several stories on this.

      As for why now and not before, Dr. Ann McKee, the woman with the brains, really has played a huge part. Her work has made the dangers of concussions nearly undeniable. There’s no playing ‘1960’s tobacco company’ anymore.

      Like

    • 27 December 2012 1:20 am

      I heard that some of this research pointed to soccer being the leading cause of concussions for girls in the USA? If so, that is very bad.

      Like

  7. 24 December 2012 9:07 pm

    Here’s a idea for the big nes of 2012: the year the Republicans went mad.

    Or, perhaps, the year it became obvious to the rest of us. Or perhaps to the slow class among us (eg, moi).

    Like

  8. Thomas More permalink
    24 December 2012 11:01 pm

    My favorite quote from 2012 is from FM: “America is at war with reality — and it’s losing.”

    Like

    • Pluto permalink
      25 December 2012 2:28 pm

      That one gets my vote as well.

      My greatest hope is that we have finally realized that we are losing and are going to change course. My greatest fear is that inertia has already carried us over the precipice and we haven’t realized it yet.

      Like

    • 25 December 2012 5:24 pm

      Pluto,

      I share your fear. On the other hand, the potential for change — even redemption — is an inherent aspect of the human soul. Now, on this of all days, we should remember that!

      Like

    • Pluto permalink
      25 December 2012 10:58 pm

      Very true, FM. Happy holidays.

      Like

  9. Burke G Sheppard permalink
    25 December 2012 11:27 am

    Fabius wrote:

    “I cannot imagine a future American history in which Kennedy’s May 1961 speech does not get top billing! ”

    Neither can I. Space X is important, because we need to be able to do manned space flight at a much lower cost than we did in the 60s, and Space X may be a step in that direction. I wonder, though, if it would have been possible to get this far without NASA and the Apollo program doing a lot of research and development that would have been too expensive for the private sector alone. Maybe absent Apollo we would have had a private sector Moon landing a la Heinlein, but I doubt it. The R&D for that was always going to be pricey. I don’t think even Howard Hughes could have funded a Moon landing.

    Like

    • Rune permalink
      26 December 2012 9:32 am

      I don’t see why Kennedy and NASA should not be left by the wayside of history, the same way both FM and you have done with Sputnik, Gagarin and the Soviet space program (maybe the true Henry the Navigator in this?) =)

      Like

    • 26 December 2012 3:47 pm

      Rune,

      Thank you for the reminder! I have been remiss in not mentioning the Russian space program. Although in the end end overshadowed by Apollo, without the spur provided by the Russians there would have been *no* Apollo.

      So the resulting successes of Apollo came about only as a result of the Russians’s leadership.

      In fact, Apollo’s failure resulted from the Russians failure to stay in the game. Without their competition, America quickly lost interest in space. And so the entire investment in manned space travel was wasted.

      Like

    • Rune permalink
      26 December 2012 10:59 am

      Sorry, for some reason the “American history” part escaped me. Carry on, I’ve got nothing to interject then.

      Like

    • 26 December 2012 3:48 pm

      Not at all! Your interjection was, as usual, useful and insightful. Context is always vital for understanding!

      Like

    • 27 December 2012 4:55 pm

      I was as great a fan of the Apollo program as anyone. There’s no doubt that only government could have funded an adventure of this scope. Neither was my point to minimize the importance of public support for infrastructure, which is clearly underfunded and needs much more support than its been getting in many sectors.

      That said government can often be insanely inefficient in its management of projects and expenditures. Sustainable growth typically comes when a new technology no longer requires the level of public support that seeded it. Certainly the Internet would not have exploded into the primary global communications network it became if its growth had been based on continuation of DARPA funding. Tim Berners-Lee gets a footnote and some speaking gigs for inventing the worldwide web when he worked for CERN and according to celebritynetworth.com he is worth $50 million. My guess is that Sergei Brin and Steve Jobs will get a bit more credit in the history books for transforming that technology into financially viable enterprises that changed the world.

      My belief in the importance of SpaceX is that it is a step in a similar transformation for human space exploration. NASA has moved on to robotic planetary exploration and the discovery of new planetary systems so it’s still playing an important role. That said my guess is that the first sustainable lunar or asteroid base will be developed when a critical mineral is determined to be located there and recoverable at a cost low enough to justify the energy expenditure required for recovery. Perhaps robots will do the mining and, if so, NASA should get credit for seeding development of the necessary technologies.

      Like

    • 27 December 2012 7:02 pm

      John,

      I agree on most points.

      But — we are in the midst of a large-scale struggle to massively defund the type of government-sponsored research and development (including infrastructure) projects that created today’s prosperous America. Your statements, whatever their intent, appear to mirror the propaganda supporting those efforts — so it cannot be too often or too strongly show that they are false.

      (2). “That said government can often be insanely inefficient in its management of projects and expenditures”

      This echoes my point. Can you cite any research showing that public sector is less efficient than private sector provision of goods and services?

      The list of private sector malinvestments is legion.
      * Bubbles galore, for the 19th century railroads to 21st century housing.
      * Large-scale stupidity, such as GM’s capital investment binge under Roger Smith, probably with an ROI of zero (they could have bought Honda with the money spent).
      * The high failure rate of large corporate software projects.

      And in perhaps the most telling comparison:
      *. By many metrics government-run health care systems tend to be more efficient than government systems (this is so both in the US and globally).

      Like

  10. 27 December 2012 1:15 pm

    Biggest Event? Jesse Ventura said that he will probably run for President in 2012 (while giving a major tongue lashing to Piers Morgan on CNN)!!! This will keep the next election somewhat more interesting/entertaining now that Ron Paul is old, and was more or less assimilated by the Borg. Politics is a spectator sport isn’t it? (sarcasm)

    Like

  11. OldSkeptic permalink
    28 December 2012 11:03 am

    What is wrong with you people? Curiosity, as an example of the greatest things about the US and its culture what could be greater?

    Even in its decline, even in its ‘class war’. Even in its’ war against everyone’. This is still a society that can build something so great, just for the pursuit of knowledge that enriches all of humanity. And the talent and ingenuity, no other country could do that. Be proud of yourself.

    And on the sad side, a light went out. Doc Watson. A fantastic guitar player, a wonderful example of the best of US culture and society, a gentleman. A true cultural ambassador.

    Funny thing about Americans, and this site is a classic example, is that you have a lot of debate within yourself about your climb/.decline/good./bad .. and all the rest. But what people like/dislike/admire/hate about you is almost nothing related to what you internally angst about.

    My generation admired you for the Moon landings, your music and artistic culture, your Civil Rights movement, and the end (sadly not the jailing) of Nixon.

    Hope, justice, change for the better … and more importantly a will to do better, that was the real American Dream.

    Frankly we all loved you then. But the more perceptive (like myself) saw a dark cancer as well. The past of blood and death, a desire to dominate, a cruelty, a greed, a part with endless greed. And a part that loved war, yet, as a society that was so hopeless at it. From failure to failure, even when it won, it was only as a coalition, usually as a minority

    Now all societies have that, just like we all have that in our own individual hearts. And we are all torn, do good but keep an eye out for that fat guy down the road because if it all happens he will barbeque nicely … the human condition, so tragic.

    But the US, is scarred by, possibly always will be, by its history of extermination. Note I can see the parallels In Australian society (albeit in a smaller way), torn apart by guilt and fear. From guilt we deny, from fear we … attack.

    Like

    • 28 December 2012 11:33 am

      OS: Let me know what you think about this proposal for a paradigm shift toward “World Centric” values as a solution to conflict in the middle east. You tube video of new age/integral philosopher Ken Wilber: “The Most Conflict Ridden Turf in the Known Universe”.
      .

      Like

    • 28 December 2012 3:13 pm

      Oldskeptic,

      “but the more perceptive (like myself) saw”

      It’s your humility that we most admire about you.

      “But the US, is scarred by, possibly always will be, by its history of extermination.”

      You’ve said that you’re Australian, if I recall correctly. If so, you’re well-suited to talk about extermination of Aborigines. I suggest more repentance for your own history before setting yourself up to judge other peoples.

      Like

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