Friday, October 15, 2010

Talkin' John Birch Paranoid Blues

 
It seems there is some connection between the John Birch Society and the Tea Party, as I see the JBS was pitching the Teabaggers' Ball back in February.  Seems that Dylan had the Birchers pretty well sized up,

Now we all agree with Hitler’s views
Although he killed six million Jews
It don’t matter too much that he was a Fascist
At least you can’t say he was a Communist!
That’s to say like if you got a cold you take a shot of malaria


As you can see Dylan reworked the lyrics a little.

34 comments:

  1. To me the Birchers and the Teabaggers and all these Right Wing kooks pretty much come from the same dark wellspring. They are all essentially religio-nationalists, who believe that this country has some divine right and that it is reserved principally, if not exclusively, for Whites of non-Hispanic origin. They tend to portray "outsiders" in whatever colors suit them. Not surprisingly, the Teabaggers have adopted much of the same anti-Communist rhetoric of the Birchers in painting Obama a "Socialist," and the Democrats as purveyors of "Socialism," with the now defunct Soviet Union as their stock reference.

    I had stumbled across a site that calls itself The People's Cube,

    http://thepeoplescube.com/

    and it is filled with very many of these references, purportedly started up by a crazy Ukranian who left the Soviet Union shortly before its fall and has aligned himself with the Right Wing in America, becoming the darling of Rush Limbaugh and others.

    The fall of the Soviet Union essentially reinforces in their minds that not only is Socialism "godless" but inheritly corrupt and doomed to failure. Similarly, they view Obama and the Democrats in very much the same light.

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  2. Interesting article in last week's New Yorker by Sean Wilentz about the Tea Party, Glenn Beck and the John Birch Society.

    http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/10/18/101018fa_fact_wilentz

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  3. Now I see that the Wilentz article in The New Yorker was discussed a bit in the Dylan thread. Will read those posts now.

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  4. Caught up with those posts. Further discussion of JB Society (including Wilentz article Bob mentioned) should be in this thread.

    JB Society got going and picked up where McCarthy left off after his decline.

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  5. I started to read stuff cocerning the rise of the Right in America. The Wilentz article got me interested in the phenomenon and reminded me of three things I read over the years: (1) Hofstatder's Paranoid Style essay; (2) David Hacjett Fisher's Albion's Seed Introduction where he remarks that it is wise to remember that America is essentially Conservative, but that the one idea it takes pains to preserve is its essentil liberalism. The third thing I recall is from H W Brand's theory expounded in his "THE STRANGE DEATH OF AMERICAN LIBERALISM." There, he theorizes That the liberalism of post war America was an anomoly brought on by the Cold War and by the time the cold war ended, distrust of the government was so inset that we took a hard right turn bak to the conservative values we were so comfortable with in the early 1930s.

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  6. keeping in mind the Wilentz article and his assessment that the roots of the Tea Party lie in the John Birch Society, I intent to delve further into the general question of the roots of the radical right and moden conservatism in general. Idon't know where this will read, but right now it fascinates me to no ens becaue I think the Wilentz article, while excelllent, was too limited in scope. I will look into Wilentz's THE AGE OF REAGAN which covwes 1974 to 2008 and see what I can glean from it and will also look in INVISIBLE HANDS by Kim Phillips-Fen (2009)
    Please excuse typing errors...I'm still practicing normality and sometime can't see individual lletters

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  7. Enough practice for the night--I'll be back tomorrow. Have a good evening.

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  8. I would hardly consider "Liberalism" a post-war phenomenon unless Brand means post-Civil War. The further radicalism of Southern Democrats against Reconstruction (they were already pretty radical in separating from the US) ultimately led to Jim Crow Laws, but Roosevelt refused to press the issue and Wilson was an unmitigated racist.

    I tend to agree with Fisher that this inherit conservatism is in the very fabric of America and will never be woven out of it no matter how much "liberal" legislation is passed. As Malcolm X once famously said, "the Mississippi is anywhere in the United States south of the Canadian border."

    Each time a government, whether it be the Radical Republicans of the 1860s or the Radical Democrats of the 1930s and 60s, has "imposed" any form of social reforms, there has been a strong conservative backlash. Foner in "Who Owns History" notes this cycle and described "The Age of Reagan" as a form of "Redemption" following the historic Civil Rights legislation that was passed in the 60s.

    Ironically, the persons that suffer the most from this conservative backlash, Southerners, tend to still be in some ante-bellum state of mind, unable to raise themselves out of the shackles of Plantation society, preferring their "benevolent" white lords, despite the poor health, education and welfare system found in the Southern states.

    It seems racism remains a big factor in this conservative warp, as inevitably immigration issues, the perceived notion of black "welfare queens" and now a "Radical Black Muslim President," with a Kenyan "Anti-Colonial" mindframe seems to be at the root of this backlash, despite offering nothing more than a stimulus bill that provided a wealth of benefits not only to industry but the unemployed and mortgage debt ridden Americans as well.

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  9. I'm very interested in progressivism at the moment since that seems to be the word of choice politically -- liberalism seems to have become some sort of terrible descriptor.

    The progressives believed that government and "experts" -- e.g., trained foresters -- could make a difference in the world. This was admittedly an elite pursuit, but they managed to place millions of acres of public land into reservations and established national and local parks. And they hired young men with college educations committed to looking after them.

    The timber barons cried foul of course, and Taft tried to reverse some of this, but it seems like there were once people in places of influence in this country who actually looked out for the best of the nation, particularly the next generations, and not just themselves. And it was a time of growth and relative prosperity -- not a time like the 30s when they worried if they didn't do something for the little folks the entire system might collapse.

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  10. To hear Glenn Beck, Progressivism is every bit as bad as Liberalism, even if it arose from a Republican wellspring ; )

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  11. Glen Beck has an absysmal (sic-spelling) grasp of American History. His distortions and errors are so obvious that I don't think he its any use to point them out since he doesn't seeem to respond to correction. Everything is a part of some conspiracy.Hofstadter's theory is amply demonstrated.

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  12. Gintaras: Later on or by the weekend I'll post on how Brands gounds his theory that liberalism was a product of the Cold War. It has to do with the almost total trust the people put in government to act in their interest dyring that period. The destruction of that trust brought about by Vietnam and Watergate effectively made inevitable the collapse of the idea in favor of a return to basic conservative values--the people felt betrayed.

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  13. I read the book, robert, and was rather underwhelmed by it. I didn't buy Brand's argument that Liberalism is a Cold War product, although it was interesting to see him approach it from this angle. The Civil Rights movement was a long time coming and finally gained momentum in the 60s. Previously White House and Congressional administrations were too scared to lose their constituencies to pursue it any sooner. I suppose you can argue that the Johnson WH and Democratic Congress were ultimately shamed into passing Civil Rights legislation given the rise of MLK Jr. and other charismatic black leaders who took their issues to Washington. But, much of Johnson's social initiatives were a direct outgrowth of FDR's New Deal.

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  14. As for Glenn Beck, he is indeed a shameless fool, but sadly there are a lot of folks out there who buy into his interpretation of history.

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  15. Having just read the "Reading" chapter in Henry David Thoreau's Walden, I would say liberalism has been advocated in this country since at least 1854 when the book was first published.

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  16. "I suppose you can argue that the Johnson WH and Democratic Congress were ultimately shamed into passing Civil Rights legislation given the rise of MLK Jr. and other charismatic black leaders who took their issues to Washington. But, much of Johnson's social initiatives were a direct outgrowth of FDR's New Deal."

    Do you give any credence to the theory that at least some of the legislation was passed due to a certain martyr effect after JFK's assassination?

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  17. The sad part was that JFK had no real interest in Civil Rights. It was his brother Bobby,the AG at the time, who pressed to stand down Wallace at the University of Alabama. JFK hated these "domestic" problems, and was worried more about the image it represented overseas. I think if any credit is deserved here it is Bobby for pressing LBJ as well.

    Ultimately credit is deserved all the way around for passing this long overdue legislation. But, considering it was over 100 years in the making and still took years to enforce throughout the South, one has to give the real credit to the resilience of those who fought the battles long before Congress got around to finally making Civil Rights a reality.

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  18. It was interesting to read Cooper say that Woodrow Wilson was an ardent Federalist in his college years and was glad the South lost the War. Cooper noted two of the books Wilson wrote during this time, that stressed a strong federal government with a strong cabinet. Seems he may have appreciated Lincoln's cabinet. Wilson also believed that Slavery had held back the South. But, it seems he kept these views mostly to himself, as he didn't speak out against the Jim Crow Laws and notoriously screened "Birth of a Nation" in the WH.

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  19. Wilson is also interviewed in a promotion or some sort of interlude in Birth of a Nation. He is sitting in the White House, saying something like I was a child then and, yes, this is exactly the way it was.

    You make Wilson sound more interesting than I think of him. I read a book on his college years, but don't think I've read anything else about him specifically. I have the Warrior and the Priest, but don't think I've read that one.

    I wouldn't mind reading something more in depth about him at some point, although sounds like Morris at least includes some information about him in relation to TR. I have the Morris book on order.

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  20. Well, I didn't say it was without irony that legislation passed in the wake of the JFK assassination might have occurred in part due to same. I sure seem to remember at the time folks talking about it being JFK's legacy.

    (I will even confess that I knew someone that maintained that LBJ was obligated to work for passage of such laws because of guilt--apparently he believed LBJ was involved in the assassination plot, a victim of too much Shakespeare, perhaps, or maybe he saw the play based on that premise, "McBird." Now there's a cultural artifact long absent from my consciousness. One can derive some comfort from the fact that the loonies of today are not without precedent.)

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  21. I heard that "legacy" story as well, but JFK hadn't done much to push the bill through Congress before his untimely death. And, as much as Bobby may have wanted it, LBJ was probably the only man at the time who could have steered such a bill through Congress, as he knew all the key members on personal terms.

    I certainly didn't mean to undermine his great accomplishment, but Civil Rights legislation was a long time coming. It wasn't something that sprang out of the Cold War, which was what Robert and I were discussing. "Liberalism" had been around for a long while before.

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  22. I'm glad to hear you read the Brands book.I won't get to finish for a while, so I'll accept your proposition that it presents a rather weak case for liberalism arising in part as a reaction or response to the Cold War.

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  23. Robert, be fun to read your opinion of the book here when you finish it. Brand writes a lot, and probably misses the mark on some of his ideas. But he is a good historian so it would be interesting to read how you and Gintaras differ on this.

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  24. On JFK/LBJ Civil Rights legislation there is Robert Mann's THE WALLS OF JERICHO covering the struggle over the CIVIL RIGHTS ACT AND THE VOTING RIGHTS ACT. The book credits LBJ and Hubert Humphrey, both working on Rihard Russel to get these bills passed. Kennedy had little chance to pass these as he had no leverage with Russel---Lbj as VP had lost his power in the Senate, but after he became President he used his new found power to force the South to change....LBJ believed that in order for the South to benefit from Americsn prosperity,it had to change its attitude toward the negro, otherwise business would not invest in the region. To do this, he proposed both bills and proceeded to dragoon Richard Russel to provide the votes to get them passed. Humphrey was a key figure in all of this.Its a very good bood.

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  25. Avrds: Gintaras and I generally end up thinking alike. I have to finish GEORGE WASHINGTON first (about 300 pages) then I'll finish Brands--its a short book.

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  26. Just in time for this discussion----the NY Times Sunday Book Review has two essays on the present status of liberalism and on the present status of conservatism in America. I'll download them to my kindle tomorrow and read them when I get up (5AM Eastern Time) D'Sousa's book is reviewd in the same issue--should be interesting. I still have trouble reading from a computer, but do well here and on the kindle.

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  27. Not a big fan of D'Sousa, but he at least represents the more intelligent side of conservatism, which seems to be sorely lacking in this election cycle.

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  28. I don't know what if any "Liberalism" is left these days. Our last two Democratic Presidents were hardly "liberal," especially Clinton, who co-opted much of the Republican "Contract with America." Seems politics has swung hard right ever since Reagan with the Democrats shedding much of the liberal "big policy" issues. Even health care was presented in the most pragmatic terms, and the "stimulus bill" more a series of stop-gap measures rather than any over-arching "liberal" plan like the New Deal. For all intents and purposes "Liberalism" is dead.

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  29. I saw a PBS program last week (during the overnight hours, so it was a re-run) that was all about Hubert Humphrey's life. They gave him a lot of credit for his work in the Senate to get the 1964 Civil Rights bill passed. They suggested that LBJ rewarded him by selecting him as VP on his '64 ticket. I'm not sure what the time frame was on the Civil Rights bill.

    I would post a link about this program, but I could not find it on the PBS or Ch. 13 website while I was watching it on TV. It was quite long -- at least 2 hours. It had a lot about his speech at the 1948 Dem. convention about civil rights, which he made at least partly because of the stance of the Dixiecrats in the party.

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  30. Found an article about the Humphrey documentary on PBS. It was new this year. "Hubert H. Humphrey: The Art of the Possible" is the title and here is a link to the Twin Cities Daily Planet article:

    http://www.tcdailyplanet.net/news/2010/10/07/new-documentary-film-kicks-hubert-h-humphrey-centennial

    The article notes what about Humphrey was left out of the program. It was 2 hours.

    Has anyone here seen the program? I thought it was very good. I recorded it while watching (in case I wanted to fall asleep) but have since deleted it from the dvr.

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  31. Here's a youtube promo video of the HHH program:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MUVe1lkl09Y

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  32. Thanks Marti. I'll watch for that show.

    One thing that James Clyburn pointed out about the Civil Rights legislation that made me feel a bit better about health care is that LBJ took out the voting rights act to get it through Congress. What is Civil Rights without voting rights, housing rights and equal employment rights?

    But Clyburn's point was that then they came back and got the others passed later. Sometimes you don't get everything you want all at once but you have to keep the pressure on.

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  33. I once worked for HHH and found him to be one of the most dedicated persons I ever met. I clsim to be the last Hubert Huphrey Democrat alie---and I'm proud of the designation. He was a good and gracios man.I saw him the day after he was defeated by Nixon--doing his usual cosolling a tearful supporter---telling hi it was all worth the fight--that we had to continue the battle. He was so gracious and empathetic in defeat. Wiyhout him and Richard Russel, ther wouln;t have been a voting rights act. Russel had to overcome 40 years of Southern Democratic Negro hating in order to support the bill. LBJ leaned on him, as did HHH until he relented and allowed the bill to pass.

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  34. My computer is acting up---so if I get lost for a few days---I'll be back. So far I need a new printer---mine resists re-booting attems---error signs abound about the inability to find some folders or files. Also- I went into the computer for a complete restoration and created the nightmare of the Norton security system blocking AOL access---so I worked on it until I blocked Norton---what a nightmare---so I'm taking a computer vacation for a day or so so I can slow down and get my head on straight.

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