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04 May 2010

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William R. Cumming

I have a problem in that this post is too much in sympathy with my beliefs. What really happened I believe is that people in the US stopped trying to reason and started to rely on various "faiths" that tried to explain away their problems and blame the "other"! But could be wrong! What always worried me is that trend is what appeared in the then most advanced world civilization and seems to have caused it just barely to escape its two almost successful suicide attempts, specifically WWI and WWII. Could the decline of the West (note not Christendom) be blamed on its abandonment of reason as the tool for progress? Great post!

rick

So the guy in his double-wide who is worried, genuinely and sincerely(however irrationally) about the death tax is worried about it because he is ignorant of the machinations of big business?

Clifford Kiracofe

Economic history (industrial, financial, etc) rather than economic "theory"...so just what is the economic HISTORY of these United States, one might ask?

And naturally this relates to the political HISTORY of the US...

By 1850, the US was the third industrial power in the world behind the UK and France. By 1900 we were number one. Times have changed now.

Eli Whitney is known for the cotton gin. But he was a pioneer of modern mass production. He conceived the idea of interchangeable parts for rifles thus enabling mass production of weapons where they had been handbuilt one off before. President Jefferson encouraged the inventor with public money to pursue his research and development and thus established a basis for production of weapons for our armories not to mention mass production of goods generally via the mechanism of machine tools.

Was Jefferson a "socialist"?

Then, for example, we have the encouragement of public "internal improvements" such as roads, canals, and the like by states and by the federal government in the 19th century, particularly by the old Whig Party.

Was the American Whig Party a "socialist" party?

The excesses of Big Business during the late 19th century produced, for example, the Interstate Commerce Act of 1887. Was Congress "socialistic" doing this?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interstate_Commerce_Commission

This act helped to establish the basis for federal REGULATION of business engaged in interstate commerce.

Following this the Progressive Movement and others promoted a number of reforms to curb the excesses of Big Busisiness. Many Republicans were in the Progressive camp...TR being one example. US Senator Bob LaFollette was a leader among Republican Progressives.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_M._La_Follette,_Sr.

Many Progressives/Republicans such as Harold Ickes supported the New Deal of FDR.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harold_L._Ickes

In my book, Dark Crusade (London: Tauris, 2009), I examine the changes in the Republican Party since World War II and point out the influence of the avowedly Fascist American Liberty League created in the 1930s by certain powerful Democrat and Republican circles and Wall Street to oppose FDR and the New Deal agenda.

Beck and Limbaugh, "recovering" drug addicts, and that blonde slut are the perfect mouth pieces for American Liberty League style propaganda. Note the attack on FDR and the New Deal by the extreme Right today, same themes the American Liberty League used in the 1930s. FDR and the New Deal was "socialist"...etc.

The "deregulation" mantra is pushed by those who in effect wish to return to a pre-1887 America (pre-the Interstate Commerce Act and regulation).

American Liberty League wiki at
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Liberty_League

The American people are dumbed down, propagandized, and easily manipulated nowadays. Thus perfect targets for Beck, Limbaugh, and that blonde slut...not to mention "Oprah" the ex-prostitute according to the recent biography.

R Whitman

I can remember John Kennedy being villified in the same way during the early 60's by the John Birch Society, the Christian Anti-Communist Crusade and various other wingnut organizations.

He was called a Socialist, a Commie-lover and a Comsymp. Very strong words in thse days when the US was just getting over Joe McCarthy five years earlier. The Bay of Pigs disaster did not help.

So this has happened before and will happen again. Thirty years from now, when I'm pushing up daisies, people will look back at the Obama Admin and see the beginnings of National health Insurance that will rank along side of other great American social welfare institutions such as public schools, free textbooks, Medicare and Social Security.

jonst

It will be interesting to follow this thread. Will wait to comment in depth on the issues Mr Sale raises. But I would like to offer two minor comments: I don't think it is factually correct to conclude that "... nobody cried “socialism” over his [LBJ's] vision of the Great Society". I think there were groups that uttered that cry and worse. For instance, the John Birchers. The question might be asked then....why has what/whom was once assigned to the fringes made its way into the mainstream? Is there a direct correlation bwtn the two groups?

Second, you write, "...we suddenly moved to Ronald Reagan’s view that “the government is not the solution, the government is the problem.”

I have to take issue with here, on perhaps a minor point. But perhaps not a minor point. In fact, the move away from 'big govt', or, at the move towards a view that the 'govt can't run things', began in the Carter Administration with the deregulation of the airline industry. So while it might be true that Reagan turned the song and dance into a mainstream sound....the audience, so to speak, was already set up by Dems. By SOME Dems anyway. The split within the Dem party had already begun. Harden, in fact, at this point. Which meant they were highly vulnerable to the dynamics of Reagan movement.

WILL

Ronald Wilson Reagan, No. 40, is much overrated. I remember as a teenager listening to him in a paid infomercial paid by the AMA talk convincingly how passage of Medicaire was socialism and would be the end of healthcare. Even then I knew he was full of it and he was spewing bullcrap.

I have always thought his son Ronald Jr. made more sense.

Cynthia

Jeff Cohen, the founder of the media watchdog FAIR, explains how Obama rose to become our nation's leading corporatist Democrat. He did this by being a high-priced whore for Corporate America:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yfLJIfRUBkU

Cohen also mentions that Obama describes himself as a "free-market" guy. Cohen then goes on to mention that Obama is too smart not to know that by 2008 there is no free market. A few companies have taken over basically every industry. So when Obama says he's a "free-market" guy, it's just a softer way of saying he's a "corporate" guy. But Obama is smart enough not to say that.

Which makes me wonder why Obama is trying so hard to win the hearts and the minds of the crazies in the teabagging movement when they keep pushing the myth that he's an socialist Muslim. Surely they know that Obama signing off on a corporate-friendly bank bailout plan and pushing for a corporate-friendly health care bill are both clear-cut examples of welfare for Corporate America, not for society as a whole. Teabaggers are dumb, but I doubt they are so dumb as to not know that Obama is a corporatist, not a socialist. And surely they know that Obama is clearly conducting himself as neo-con hegemon hell-bent on making Muslims around the world subservient to the American Empire. Teabaggers are dumb, but I doubt they are so dumb as to not know that Obama is more of a foe than a friend to the Muslim world.

So I've pretty much come to the conclusion that teabaggers, whether they are victims of astroturfing or not, are falsely portraying Obama as a far-left socialist with strong ties to the Muslim world in order to get Obama to respond by moving himself and the Democratic Party further and further to the Right -- to the point where he and the Democrats are one and the same with the Republicans. Unfortunately, what the teabaggers are doing is working!

And I can't leave here without saying a few choice words about Elena Kagan, Obama's top pick for the Supreme Court. Elena Kagan, if you don't already know, is bosom buddies with Cass Sunstein, one of Obama's closest confidantes on judicial matters. And Cass Sunstein, if you don't already know, is a judicial militant who'd love nothing more than to put a bullet through the head of our civil liberties! In fact, the two of them are such enemies to our Constitutional rights that they make Anthony Scalia look like a civil libertarian!

Read some of Glenn Grennwald's posts and you'll know what the hell I'm talking about. And as you read them, keep in mind that Obama is a knuckle dragger compared to Greenwald when it comes to constitutional law. His understanding of our Constitution and his respect for it outshine Obama's by several solar masses!

http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2010/01/15/sunstein/index.html

http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2010/04/13/kagan/index.html

Roy G

It's a fine time to examine this topic. I'd add the metastasization of the body politic and media, as well.

We are being given a prime exhibition of tragedy and farce with the Gulf oil spill. All of Big Oil's politicians are front and center, falling all over themselves to a.) minimize the oil spill threat and b.) politicize it by blaming somebody else.

According to Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, it was an 'act of God,' which only makes sense if you worship St. Ronnie, because the 'act of God' was to not install a $500k emergency shutoff valve -required by other countries that haven't drunk so much 'free market' koolaid.

steve

Thanks. You have articulated the problem very well and I look forward to part 2.

par4

Dugg.
Great post,I hope you will report how some 'Big Businesses' and the people who owned them were against Roosevelt and his policies.They tried to thwart them then and continue to this day.(Hint)Smedley Butler blew the whistle on them.

Brad Ruble

Well said. Looking forward the next installment.

Byron Raum

If you will allow me a little bit of cheekiness, Mr Sale, I would like to say that you don’t “get it.” You are writing towards people who are already inclined towards agreeing with you, myself included (naturally.)

Contrast Mr Sale’s excellent article with Mr Beck’s writing. Take a look at Mr Beck’s article of today, “Radicals Following European Playbook.” Mr Sale considers his readers his intellectual peers. He offers a hypothesis and backs it up with facts. This is useless to a man who doesn’t want to think. In order to get value out of Mr Sale’s article, you have to be almost as smart as Mr Sale. Mr Beck tells us what to think and what to do. It consists of simple commands, easy to understand. No thinking required.

Mr Beck has a most excellent understanding of this. His customers are people seeking solace in a strange and complex environment. He is selling simplicity. Unfortunately, the price he charges is nuance and by that same token, correctness.

It is important to distinguish between Mr Beck and his followers. Mr Beck himself has an excellent grasp of nuance, perhaps even better than ours. That is why he able to eradicate it so well. If we were to debate him, he might even win. His followers would see it as a triumph of their world view, whereas, in fact, it was exactly the opposite. But that’s all right. Mr Beck himself will reassure them by lying to them.

His world consists of simple ideas, simple thoughts, easily expressed, easily understood and more importantly, he refuses to come to our world of complex ideas and has no patience for Obama’s tedious accumulation of soft power. So, at a time when you and I would think and try to figure things out, his average reader just fills in the time by repeating the same simple ideas to himself, over and over again, rather like a religious chant or a spell.

This person already has what he thinks is a solution and knows what to do. Unfortunately, since he hasn’t thought very far ahead, it is by luck alone that his solution can work.

This is the chasm that divides our country. The division isn’t between left and right, Democrat or Republican, Socialist or Capitalist. It’s between the wise and the stupid. How to bridge this divide? I don’t know. Over history, people have gotten smarter. It’s rather obvious why: the simple ideas have already been thought through. Any progress that is to be made can only be in terms of reaching for the complexity out there. Perhaps Time is what may heal us all.

Sean Paul Kelley

Mr. Sale,

Thank you for your post. I hope to come back a little later this afternoon and comment more fully. While I agree with your commentary that Obama is not a socialist, as he most certainly is not, he has nationalized at least one US industry: the student loan industry. Just an FYI. Of course, you and I both realize that this doesn't rise to the level of socialism, alas, it will be used in an argument.

Cloned Poster

Have to say a brilliant post, but it has too many word (ie, more than 10) to actually argue with the brick wall we are up against.

Bobby Murray

Thank you Mr. Sale.

Sidney O. Smith III

Can’t wait to read Zanzibar’s comment. Hope Zanzibar weighs in.

Is this essay consistent with Sale’s earlier and also well-written screed that relied on F. Hayek? I thought Hayek opposed government intervention and was not of the FDR tradition.

http://tinyurl.com/32c8zu7

As for myself, I was raised in the fdr tradition, but we live in a time of ideological disarray (h/t weiss), so I am not sure any paradigm works anymore. All parameters have been shattered, and, imo, Ludwig Von Mises' Human Action at least warrants consideration.

Certainly agree with the above comment re: Greenwald. Greenwald and Weiss are two of the best hopes for that which was known as the progressive tradition. But they sre so cutting edge that I am not sure they are "progressives" anymore.

Clifford Kiracofe

Beck's Bio:

"Beck was raised as a Roman Catholic and attended private Immaculate Conception Catholic School in Mount Vernon. At age 13, he won a contest that landed him his first broadcast job as a disc-jockey for his hometown radio station, KBRC.[12]

In 1977, William Beck filed for divorce against Mary due to her increasing alcoholism.[13] Glenn and his older sister moved with their mother to Sumner, Washington, attending a Jesuit school[14] in Puyallup. On May 15, 1979, his mother drowned in Puget Sound, just west of Tacoma, Washington.[14] A man who had taken her out in a small boat also drowned. A Tacoma police report stated that Mary Beck "appeared to be a classic drowning victim", but a Coast Guard investigator speculated that she could have intentionally jumped overboard.[14] Beck has described his mother's death as a suicide in interviews during television and radio broadcasts.[13][14]

After their mother's death, Beck and his older sister moved to their father's home in Bellingham, Washington,[12] where Beck graduated from Sehome High School in June 1982.[15] In the aftermath of his mother's death and subsequent suicide of his stepbrother, Beck has said he used "Dr. Jack Daniel's" to cope.[16]

At 18, following high school graduation, Beck relocated to Provo, Utah and worked at radio station KAYK. Feeling he "didn't fit in," Beck left Utah after six months,[17] taking a job at Washington D.C.'s WPGC in February 1983.[18]

While working at WPGC, Beck met his first wife, Claire.[19] The couple married and had two daughters, Mary and Hannah; Mary was born in 1988 with cerebral palsy, the result of a series of strokes at birth.[19] The couple divorced in 1994 amid Beck's struggles with substance abuse. Along with being a recovering alcoholic and drug addict,[20] Beck has been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.[21][22] He cites the help of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) in his sobriety and attended his first AA meeting in November 1994, the month he states he stopped drinking alcohol and smoking cannabis.[21]

In 1996, while working for a New Haven-area radio station, Beck was admitted to Yale University through a special program for non-traditional students. Beck took one theology class, "Early Christology," and then dropped out.[21][23]

In 1999, Beck married his second wife, Tania.[21] They joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in October 1999, partly at the urging of his daughter Mary.[24][25] The couple has two children, Raphe (who is adopted) and Cheyenne. Beck lives in a multimillion dollar home in Connecticut with his wife and four children.[26]"
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glenn_Beck


and laughing all the way to the bank...

walrus

Looking forward to the next part.

graywolf

Another load of multi-sylabbic BS from inside the beltway; aimed at the rest of us - the ignorant peasantry - who should just trust our country and lives to our superiors in the political/media complex.

Charles

The idea that government does not run things well was not Carter's invention, it was the Founding Fathers' observation based on the objective evidence. They believed that small government was the best government. How they foresaw the DMV, public education, VA Hospitals, or the TSA is hard to say. Perhaps just one more example of their genius.

The choice between big government and unfettered business is a false one. Business and government have their roles. We should limit government's activities to the things enumerated in the Constitution. Business should be regulated in the amount necessary to prevent predation (which becomes less of a threat daily as the world becomes more integrated). The rest, we should take care of ourselves -- charity begins at home, not from government handouts; local regulation (with few exceptions) is better than national regulation; higher taxes place drag on the system reducing productive capital that hurts all of our standards of living (most of all the poor).

steve

I occasionally teach at a public community college. Whenever I hear a rant from a student about Obama and the evils of socialism, I like to remind them that we have a socialized law enforcement system, a socialized highway network, a socialized military, a socialized fire department, and a largely socialized educational system, etc.

I also remind them that they attend a socialized college.

Hank

Interesting post. I suspect much of the noise is related fear. It is the fear of the unknown, fear of the economy, fear caused by the hyperventilation of doom with every arrest, fear that the white man won't be the boss. Beck et al play on the anxiety of the people. This is no different than the tactics of Ben Tillman and the other populists of the early 20th century.

Fred

"Nothing can confer a right to do what is wrong."
Here's a story that's getting no traction in the MSM, covering all your bases at once; doing wrong, Business vs. Government, bad reporting (or none-at all), public interest and "..Big Business, much of whose history exhibited a contempt for basic decency and contempt for the law and a headlong pursuit of short-sighted and selfish ends."

"Erik Prince, the reclusive owner of the Blackwater empire, rarely gives public speeches and when he does he attempts to ban journalists from attending and forbids recording or videotaping of his remarks. On May 5, that is exactly what Prince is trying to do when he speaks at DeVos Fieldhouse as the keynote speaker for the "Tulip Time Festival" in his hometown of Holland, Michigan…."
http://www.thenation.com/blog/secret-erik-prince-tape-exposed

The author of this piece in the Nation is having an open event the same day. http://www.thenation.com/authors/jeremy-scahill

Charles

Re-read the post and some of the responses and I have to say that the smug superiority of many who agree with Mr Sales is palapable. "Teabaggers are dumb" (including a sexual connotation that they probably don't get earns double points, I'm sure), "the discussion is not left v. right but smart v. dumb," and the rest like them simply flees the debate. I suspect that's because it is easier to ridicule than to actually debate ideas based on the facts.

Government-run anything is generally poor. Show me an exception -- OK the military, but how long did we follow the wrong strategy in Iraq? Look how we are floundering in Afgh.

Command economies fail uniformly. I don't know of any times central economic planning has worked. But we think that a bunch of regulations and regulators from DC are going to save us. Look what it did to housing.

Socialized medicine is a failure -- I've lived it in Europe, India and the VA. Look at how the cost of everything has come down in real terms except our highly regulated health care -- the only exception to that rule is those procedures that we pay out of pocket. Look at the minimal cost growth for Lasik over the years.

Debate is a great thing and Mr Sales put out a great polemic to spur more -- sorry that much of what we got was disdain for anyone with an opposing view.

S B Jones

The job of the myriad propagandists in the Limbaugh/Beck/Hannity/Savage mode is to weaponize the ignorance of as many citizens in the public sphere as they can. And such nasty work is always more effective when played out not on the rational, reality based plane but on the emotional plane. Here is where facts are shaped to fit the beliefs, the inverse of what happens in a healthy, well-functioning reality-based environment.

In the emotional arena truth always a secondary consideration, at best occasionally useful only to provide a vestigial impression of legitimacy to otherwise wholly invented claims and to make the typical fear-mongering and finger pointing seem justified. Scare people, identify the boogey-man for them, and they are far more vulnerable to being easily manipulated.

And there are always plenty of people eager to turn over their cognitive responsibilities to others. No one should be surprised at the wild success of the demagoguges. Their entertainment value alone to the media conglomerates who provide their platform is more profitable than any other single so-called news element in their print or broadcast empires.

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