« Open Thread - 6 November 2010 | Main | Lindsey Graham and Iran »

07 November 2010


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


Excellent points Mr. Sale. A part of the history overlooked is the rise of organized labor. If corporations actually 'took care of' their employees there wouldn't be any unions. Lets not forget one of America's favorite capitalists:

Mr. Ford was no friend of FDR or organized labor.

Secure Care

Indeed these are troubling times for The American Experiment.

While pointing to the mid 1930s, you omitted one of the more interesting and revealing events, the "Business Plot" claimed by Smedley Butler.


Wouldn`t surprise me to find out that something along those lines is being discussed in small gatherings amongst the "Captains of Industry" such as Mr. Ballmer, bank & oil company CEOs etc.

In matters such as these I always try and think like we have been told an investigating detective should, think about "who would benefit from such behavior". There certainly appear to be several prominent candidates to benefit from supporting our current level of internal chaos. I'm sure many here can think of a few.

Maybe there is a bit of Columbo in some actions on high, maybe not.

"For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill." - attributed to Sun Tzu


Thank you very much for your excellent essay Mr. Sale, and thank you for pointing out the parallels and FDR's rye wit. "Emergency hospital" indeed!

However, I fail to see how and why the opposition forces facing Obama can be regarded as "The Lunatic Fringe" and I think it is dangerous to underestimate them by characterising them this way.

The plutocrats behind this would be Putsch are not lunatics. They know perfectly well that the divide between rich and poor is too wide in America, and that it is rapidly becoming unsupportable without the threatened use of fear and violence. They know that comprehensive economic and social reform are needed if the average American is to retain, let alone improve, their standard of living. They know that climate change is no joke. They know that Americas foreign policy towards the middle East is not driven by Americas interests, but Israel's. They know all this, but it is in their personal financial interests that America should continue this way. They are rational, it's just that their goals are different from the average man.

Their response, and those of their hired mouthpieces is to use projection, the technique, at least in neurolinguistics, of labelling your opponent with the characteristics of your own condition.

You and I know that it is irrational to call for the end of big Government while demanding job creation. We know it's lunacy to label Obama as part of a left wing socialist conspiracy. We know that its mad to say liberals hate America. However, the average thirty something man in the street does not and cannot see the irony of it. He does not have the life experience, nor the education for it. He was born and educated in the Reaganomics era.

We can explain to him till we are blue in the face that comparisons of GDP and mortality statistics with other developed countries conclusively demonstrate that something is very wrong and smelly with the American healthcare system. Yet he fires back at you about "Socialism" and "Death panels" which are in fact features of the healthcare industry as run by the right wing. What is the AMA but a giant socialist trade union? An HMO clerk cancelling benefits on a terminally ill patient is already a Death Panel by any other name. You are watching projection by the right, and it ain't lunacy, it works.

And of course, having been born after the Vietnam war, our average man knows nothing of the risks involved in fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. "Flowers in the streets" is laughable to you and me, but our average man has not the tools to comprehend. Americans have been deliberately dumbed down. The dead give away that this state of affairs is desirable by the right is their vicious attacks on intellectuals, especially those residing in universities, who might tell the public the truth, if they are brave, and if they already have tenure.

To put it another way; don't under estimate them. Just because some belief system is totally irrational, doesn't mean that folk won't sign up for it, then God help the average American. By the time Fascism arrives, it's too late to do anything about it.

While they dark forces did not succeed against FDR, will they today? I don't know enough to make comparisons about concentration of media ownership between 1936 and 2010, and then there is the wild card of the Internet. I suspect that the range of views available in 1935 was more diverse than it is today, but I may be wrong. What I would like to understand is if a concerted Goebbels - like media campaign is easier to implement today that it was in 1936.

If it is, then Rupert Murdoch has a lot to answer for.

anna missed

.This a brilliant post Mr.Sale. In a recent MJ interview with Oliver Stone, he quips at one point on what you describe as "like listening to a tape loop", as a new kind of "tyranny of now" whereby such political narrative nonsense as "who could have predicted" are allowed to achieve widespread believability and mainstream credibility.

I think in many ways the tape loop you mention was put into motion in 1920, when the forces of modernity first clashed with the legacy of tradition bound agrarian based social structures in a big way. Think, the rebirth of the KKK, the anti immigration hysteria, the 19th amendment. These developments was paralleled by the supply side economic policy of three successive republican administrations, that eventually culminated in the crash of 29.

Looking back, it would appear that what began back then, is pretty much where we still are - repeating the same culture dramas and the same economic pipe dreams, to largely the same results.

The next question then, is there viable reason for being locked into this tape loop - and who does it benefit.


I guess I don't understand the comparison you're making. There may be a few parallels between today and the 1936 election, but there are many more differences. So dominant was FDR that he crushed his opponent in a landslide not seen since. The "fringe" then really was a fringe. What is the "fringe" today? Who is "FDR" today?

Buzz Meeks


Good article of then/now and attaching the points to the connecting lines.

What the right refuses to admit in 1936 or when Bonzo ran in '78 is that FDR saved capitalism with New Deal. All this got him were two assignation attempts sponsored by the DuPonts and the card carrying American Nazis at GM GE,Standard Oil (Exxon Mobil), IBM, along with Prescott Bush, Harriman, Joe Kennedy to name just a few of the patriotic right. Of course they didn't really want capitalism saved when they could steal instead.

At least from the 30's to 1978 Glass- Steagall and a strong FCC kept things in a kind of stasis. One of the first things Bonzo did was deregulate and gut the FCC. Consolidation of the media spew has given rise of the Becks and other corporatist/ Likud lap dogs to tell the country to ignore the man behind the curtain.

Thank Slick Willie and his economical cabal of Summers, Rubin and Greenspan for the rest of this very sordid mess.

Remember, It Can't Happen Here.

Buzz Meeks

Bob Bernard

"History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme."
-Mark Twain

Norman Rogers

Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.

Wandering around out there on the fringe, one Douglas MacArthur, practicing his own curious form of fascism by stamping out the camps full of Veterans on the outskirts of Washington D.C. Do we have a similar fascist in uniform, answering to no one save his own ambition? I'll let someone else conjure up a name, if one really exists.

FB Ali


Excellent comments. Worth serious consideration.

One possible source of danger that you did not mention has been raised by Norman Rogers: the military. There have been reports off and on about the efforts of Christian fundamentalists to proselytize in the military (the Air Force Academy was especially mentioned).

Is there a problem looming there?



There's plenty now out of uniform, if they were ever in one, who will gut the VA since they claim veterans health care costs are too high. The one thing they'll fight is taxes on anyone with real wealth.


The Fed Reserve's mad hatter money printing operation is fueling the activity of speculators causing raw materials, food, and oil to go up and up. There are speculations that oil will reach $100/barrel. Another downside of the Fed Reserve's mad hatter money printing operation is that it is devaluing the dollar, all of which hurts Mom and Pop America.


On Landslides:
Popular votes
Lyndon Johnson 61.1%
Barry Goldwater 38.5%
Franklin Roosevelt 60.8% Alf Landon 36.5%
Richard Nixon 60.7%
George McGovern 37.5%
Ronald Reagan 58.8%
Walter Mondale 40.6%

Electoral votes
Franklin D. Roosevelt 523 electoral votes
Alf Landon 8 electoral votes (97% margin)
Richard Nixon 520 electoral votes
George McGovern 17 electoral votes (93.3% margin)
Ronald Reagan 525 electoral votes
Walter Mondale 13 electoral votes 95.2% margin)

Nixon's silent majority...Ah, you had to be there. Say Andy, didn't you say (in another Blogistan Space) you grew up around the Reganaut era ? Well, you must admit landslides are not so rare. Oh, and as far as Mondale and McGovern being fringe? Who Knew? The latter, though having the bad taste of being seen in the company of various long haired agitators in his campaign environment, was not one himself. As a Matter of fact, during Whiskey Whiskey deuce he piloted a B-24 Liberator over such fun places as the Ploesti Oil fields...or what he could see of them through the flak. Tricky Dick successfully made him out to be a radical....Hey, I think this linguistical projection stuff has some merit, doncha' think?

Robert Murray

Thank you, Mr. Sale - simply superb!

Clifford Kiracofe

Nice to see this post. I have been referencing the American Liberty League for several years now on this blog.

I present some detail about the "Liberty League" and US politics pre and post WWII in my book Dark Crusade (London: IB Tauris, 2009).

Sidney O. Smith III

Historical relevance appears limited by US and State government debt 2010, not to mention the amount of borrowing that will have to occur in 2011. Uncharted territory.




Thanks for that. Yes, I was born in 1968, so I was a teen during the Reagan years. Shame on me for not looking up the popular vote. I guess opposing FDR wasn't so "fringe" after all.

William R. Cumming

Pertinent perhaps is the documented efforts of Bismark to promote social programs so that those at the front doing the fighting were not concerned about what happened if they died in combat!
Most historians have concluded that FDR saved captitolism from its own excesses. What they conclude of the efforts post 2008 melt-down do not yet indicate any consensus. Personally I would like to see the dawning on the average American that a life built on prolifgerate use of energy might not have staying power as when in spring 2008 gas reached $4.00 a gallon.


Mr Sale,

Have you considered whether rightist fringe movements like the Tea Party actually are a grassroots response to previously-fringe-but-now-mainstream anti-New Deal movements (namely the 'market fundamentalists' and 'globalization utopians'-of which the neocons where just one breed)?

If this is the case, then this means that the libertarian elements of the Tea Party could have been co-opted by Obama, but instead were co-opted by the very movement they revolted against.

It would also imply that we are already much closer to the point of no return.

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

February 2021

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
Blog powered by Typepad