Teabagger Revisionism

McClatchy has a good debunking of some of the “history” that teabaggers believe is fact.

Some examples: Teddy Roosevelt was a socialist, Joe McCarthy exposed liberals for the communists that they really were, Jamestown was a socialist settlement, and Alexander Hamilton was a small-government conservative.

And don’t miss this Bachmann gem:

It’s long been debated how well Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal government programs countered the Great Depression, but now a prominent conservative has introduced the idea that Roosevelt CAUSED the Depression.

“FDR took office in the midst of a recession,” Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., told the Conservative Political Action Conference in February. “He decided to choose massive government spending and the creation of monstrous bureaucracies. Do we detect a Democrat pattern here in all of this? He took what was a manageable recession and turned it into a 10-year depression.”

167 replies
  1. 1
    jeffreyw says:

    testing 123

    yep, [img] button fail, could have been awesome

  2. 2
    Royston Vasey says:

    Hurrah! And lashings of ginger beer all round!

    RV +lots

  3. 3
    El Cid says:

    What’s funny about the post-Reaganite reconstruction of hysterical anti-New Deal mythmaking is how commonly it was taken for granted among prominent and academic Southerners beginning in the 1950s that it was the New Deal & WWII government investment in developing the U.S. South that dragged it out of its parasite-infested, mud-road, starving worker, non-electrified, ultra-low wage, malnutrition-afflected, sparsely-schooled, sharecropping state of undevelopment. And not simply due to rational plans to have a modernized nation all the way throughout the territories, but because Southern segregationist Democrats could wheedle the goodies out of the FDR administration, having such seniority in Congress.

    Back then the spin among anti-Yankee white elites was that this federal investment was owed the South, but nowadays the neo-Confederate spin, I guess, is that we’uns down hyeah was better off with outhouses, no screen doors, starvin’ millworkers, kerosene lamps, hookworm, and mud roads.

  4. 4
    Violet says:

    but now a prominent conservative has introduced the idea that Roosevelt CAUSED the Depression.

    This is not new. I’ve got family members who lived through the Depression who have been saying this as long as I can remember. They have always been Republicans. It’s not an unusual sentiment among Republicans.

    And shame on you, mistermix, for trying to use facts to debunk feelings and beliefs! You must be some lie-beral, soshulist, commie, pinko real-Murkin-hater to do something like that!

  5. 5
    Mnemosyne says:

    30 percent unemployment in Roosevelt’s day was “manageable” but 9 percent unemployment today is proof of total Obama fail?

    Ooookay, Michele.

  6. 6
    furioso ateo says:

    FDR, worst president? Or worstest president?

  7. 7
    WereBear says:

    dragged it out of its parasite-infested, mud-road, starving worker, non-electrified, ultra-low wage, malnutrition-afflected, sparsely-schooled, sharecropping state of undevelopment

    And they have yet to forgive.

  8. 8
    Michael says:

    Shorter Southron apologetics:

    Living with a Second/Third World economic structure is a good thing, because poor people then have to work harder to eke out a hardscrabble living, and it is easier for the local poohbahs to get people to bend to their whims.

    I’ve always said that the biggest mistake in American history was the failure to hang Davis, Stevens, Benjamin and Lee as traitors, and to have the line of Confederate officers abd planters behind them ready to string up.

  9. 9
    c u n d gulag says:

    El Cid,
    Yeah, but in those days, a white man could look at his son and say, “Look, Son, I know we ain’t got no food, no land, no job, and no hope. But, at least we’re still better off than the f***ing N*****s in this town.”
    That was the predominant thought that kept poor rural whites accepting their harsh conditions from 1865, if not before.
    And then, from FDR to LBJ, and to this day, the lot of the African Americans became better, and the poor and stupid white’s were no longer “better off” than them.
    And that’s what’s fed conservative animus from FDR to the Teabuggerer’s.

  10. 10
    Warren Terra says:

    I was just driving down I5 through California’s agricultural planters’ baronies, and a bunch of them have signs up along the highway saying “Congress Caused Dust Bowl”. Other signs bash Pelosi.

  11. 11
    Michael says:

    Yeah, but in those days, a white man could look at his son and say, “Look, Son, I know we ain’t got no food, no land, no job, and no hope. But, at least we’re still better off than the f***ing N*****s in this town.”
    That was the predominant thought that kept poor rural whites accepting their harsh conditions from 1865, if not before.
    And then, from FDR to LBJ, and to this day, the lot of the African Americans became better, and the poor and stupid white’s were no longer “better off” than them.

    If you never have to fix things, you can be a lazy as fuck Conservative and let the goodies continue to fall in your lap, as per your entitled state.

  12. 12
    gbear says:

    I really hope that Bachmann stays the congresswhacksperson for her district forever. She is actually fairly representative of her district (concentrated wingnut), she’s totally amazing to watch on the national news shows as she spew the most demented shit to be found anywhere (Beck must have a shrine to here somewhere), and if she loses her seat in congress, she’ll return to MN and apply her politics to local issues (no way she’s going to go out and find a real job).

    I don;t want her back here doing the kind of damage she did before. It’s not funny at the local level. A lot of us were glad to see her go to DC.

  13. 13
    TR says:

    That may be a new intellectual low for Bachmann, and that’s saying a lot.

    When FDR took office in March 1933, we had experienced fourteen straight quarters of negative economic growth and a full 29% of the adult population was unemployed. Yes, he took office during a fucking depression. A great depression, even.

    And historians may disagree on how to track the improvements made by the New Deal, but there is complete unanimity on the easily provable fact that it made improvements.

    The funniest part of these New Deal denialists is that they insist Roosevelt’s big spending government ways made things worse, and that it wasn’t until WWII when the economy showed any signs of improvement — when, you know, Roosevelt’s big spending government did even more big government spending.

  14. 14
    jeffreyw says:

    El Cid Most excellent rant, sir.

  15. 15
    John Ball says:

    You know, strangely enough, it’s actually the rewrite on Alexander Hamilton that sums up the movement for me. (And of course, it’s the one that is the most widely accepted by people trying to squish the entire history of political parties in the US into the present frame.)

    The fact is our reactionary Right is a Johnny-Come-Lately to the scene, a delusional movement fueled by resentment and a longing for imaginary times in our past that they’re certain they can bring back. But if you see yourself as fighting for the past, you have to put yourself there. And Hamilton’s real views–much like Jefferson’s strange brand of agrarian populism–are very hard to place on the modern political measuring stick. So the Right casts him as their intellectual wellspring, even though they are against almost everything he was for.

  16. 16
    Chyron HR says:

    FDR, worst president? Or worstest president?

    Not the worstest, silly. FDR was at least the right color.

  17. 17
    Violet says:

    @ gbear

    she’s totally amazing to watch on the national news shows as she spew the most demented shit to be found anywhere (Beck must have a shrine to here somewhere),

    Flipped on the radio the other day when I was in the car and Hannity’s show was on. He was going on and on about how fantastic she Bachmann is. Don’t know about Beck, but Hannity sure has a hard on for her.

  18. 18
    Michael says:

    I’m just wondering why a Minnesota gal is buying all this redneck bullshit lock, stock and barrel. Its as if she’s been reading every self-published book that came out of the South over the past 40 years.

  19. 19
    Kryptik says:

    The hell…is there something wrong with the comments? I can’t get one posted up at all, and not even a “waiting for moderation” sign either.

  20. 20
    cleek says:

    The hell…is there something wrong with the comments? I

    don’t complain too much, or Old Man Cole will come round here and whup ya with a hickry stick!

  21. 21

    To El Cid:

    . . . dragged it out of its parasite-infested, mud-road, starving worker, non-electrified, ultra-low wage, malnutrition-afflected, sparsely-schooled, sharecropping state of undevelopment.

    We have lots of people in the US today who do not understand that you are not exaggerating.

  22. 22
    Whackjob Militia Leader soonergrunt says:

    @Michael, #8
    What should’ve happened at the end of the civil war was that every commissioned officer and government minister/secretary of the CSA should’ve been hung for treason.
    Of course had they made that their policy, they’d had to have fought for several more years. The devastation in the south would’ve been orders of magnitude worse than it was.
    Long term, though it would’ve reinforced a sense of shame for that time instead of the assinine beliefs southerners have about it now.

  23. 23
    El Cid says:

    FWIW, the notion that the average Southern white could be assumed to be anti-FDR is wrong. If you visited the homes of both poor black agricultural or domestic workers and white millworkers, you were more than likely to see pictures of FDR hanging. And it wasn’t just because Southern whites were Democrats.

    Because FDR was the first federal leader under whom the government agents and offices people seen by ordinary Southerners (and the same in much of the nation) were actually helping ordinary and poor folks, and not there just for repression.

  24. 24
    JenJen says:

    Got in one of those arguments with a Teabagging friend of mine just last night. He insists the worst President in the history of the world was Jimmy Carter, but he’ll be easily passed by Barack Obama. George W. Bush saved the world from tyranny, you know.

    When I got home, I clicked around to see what historians have to say. Found some USA Today article that was very interesting, and it included a poll where you could vote for the Worst President.

    Obama was winning by a mile. Freeping polls remains a pretty big deal to these people.

  25. 25
    Roger Moore says:

    The funniest part of these New Deal denialists is that they insist Roosevelt’s big spending government ways made things worse, and that it wasn’t until WWII when the economy showed any signs of improvement—when, you know, Roosevelt’s big spending government did even more big government spending.

    Yeah, but the WWII spending was for killing people and blowing stuff up, while the New Deal spending was on helping poor people. Everyone knows that trying to help poor people just lures people into the trap of dependence on the government, which just perpetuates the problem. The only way to make the country better is war and more war.

    Besides, you know who else took office in 1933 and tried to dig his country out of the Depression with lots of government spending …

  26. 26
    WereBear says:

    Foolish folks kept voting for FDR! Now we know better!

    /snark

  27. 27
    El Cid says:

    To Linda Feathergill:

    Exactly. People simply do not know nor comprehend how this nation before the New Deal was substantially undeveloped, worst of all the American South.

    And before WWI, most of the country was what people today imagine the 19th century was like.

  28. 28
    The Main Gauche of Mild Reason says:

    @JenJen

    I understand they dislike the guy, but I’m still mystified on where this “worst preznit ever” meme comes from. One would think “worst ever” would, you know, at least take a few years to establish, but these jokers were ranting that like 5 months in…

  29. 29
    JSpencer says:

    The idiots are gaining traction. We’ll see just how much traction this November. I’m old enough to recall when the average person in the street had enough sense to recognize when they were being played for a fool. Those days are long gone.

  30. 30
    CAinCA says:

    @Warren Terra #10: Every time I drive down I5 and see those “Congress Caused Dust Bowl” signs, I grit my teeth. In the summer you see their sprinklers shooting tons of water into the air when the humidity is so low that I imagine most of the water evaporates before it gets to the ground. And anyway, maybe they could plant some crops appropriate to the climate.

  31. 31
    AnotherBruce says:

    FDR was of course, the greatest president. The only reason that never gets mentioned is because of our blowhard right wing.

  32. 32
    mistermix says:

    @John Ball: Yes – why didn’t they just pick Madison?

    Part of the reason has to be their role as trolls. They get more attention by asserting a blatant falsehood, because it drags in people who want to correct the record. If they just adopted Madison as their hero, they’d be less likely to have others engage.

  33. 33
    Bob L says:

    @ The Main Gauche of Mild Reason
    I recall the wingnuts they were declaring Obama a failure before and the Great Recession his fault before he got elected .

  34. 34
    Kryptik says:

    Not that the mythmaking is limited to their tenuous grasp of history. They still try and make the whole thing out to be somehow super-bipartisan. And CNN, to their discredit, seems more than happy to pass along the false perception: (No link, since the comments seem to eat anything I try and post with a URL link…I think?)

    Note the lack of any real concrete reasons from the “Democrats” they cite except BIG GOVERNMENT!!, bailouts that started under Bush, and “Pelosi’s a big fat bitch”.

  35. 35
    JenJen says:

    @The Main Gauche of Mild Reason:

    Actually, weren’t they starting to rant that in February when the Teabagging began to rage? I think they gave Obama maybe four weeks before calling him a Scourge Upon This Great Nation.

    As far as Bachmann is concerned: The Crash was in ’29. FDR became President in March of ’33. I don’t get it.

    ETA: When I woke up this morning, Will Farrell’s “You’re Welcome, America” was on HBO. Watched it again and laughed my ass off. I think it should be required viewing for teabaggers, personally.

  36. 36
    TR says:

    When I got home, I clicked around to see what historians have to say.

    There’s actually a good Wikipedia page on this topic that covers all the polls of historians, with sortable rankings for each of them.

    Fifteen polls, and FDR doesn’t finish lower than third best in any of them.

  37. 37
    JGabriel says:

    MisterMix:

    McClatchy has a good debunking of some of the “history” that teabaggers believe is fact.

    A pity. Since it’s not on Fox, the teabaggers will never see it.

    .

  38. 38
    Quackosaur says:

    @The Main Gauche of Mild Reason

    Especially when he’d have to compete with perennial favorite, James Buchanan, who did diddly-squat to prevent the Civil War. Though I suppose that would probably make Buchanan a Teabagger hero or something.

  39. 39
    Violet says:

    If the economy is significantly improved and more jobs are available by the time the election rolls around in November, the Republicans are going to struggle to get people to care about things like repealing the health care bill. If the economy turns down or job growth stagnates or doesn’t happen, then they might get some traction.

  40. 40
    stevie314159 says:

    That’s nothing compared to George W Bush.

    He turned what was a slight southeasterly breeze into Hurricane Katrina.

  41. 41
    Emma says:

    I want to say that we should let them opt out of funds and assistance and all of that and let them experience their government-free paradise… and then I remember there are good people fighting the good fight in all those places and I dial it back.

    But God it’s tempting to let them slide back into abject poverty, reminding them each time that they chose it.

  42. 42
    jeffreyw says:

    And where the fuck is Ezra? Taking a vacation?

  43. 43
    Roger Moore says:

    I understand they dislike the guy, but I’m still mystified on where this “worst preznit ever” meme comes from.

    Have you taken a look at Obama’s skin color recently?

  44. 44
    Violet says:

    @ Bob L:

    I recall the wingnuts they were declaring Obama a failure before and the Great Recession his fault before he got elected .

    Yep. Rush Limbaugh was already blaming Obama for sure. Remember hearing it. “This is his recession because of the soshulist policies he and the Democrats forced through Congress.” That kind of thing.

  45. 45
    Whackjob Militia Leader soonergrunt says:

    @Roger Moore, #56
    DING DING DING We have a winner!

    And oh by the way, I can haz properly functioning blog again?

  46. 46
    The Main Gauche of Mild Reason says:

    @TR

    Thanks for the link. I think the most fascinating part is how much agreement there is between liberal and conservative historians (Lincoln, Washington, both Roosevelts, Jefferson, Wilson, Truman, etc), and I think it speaks to the long-term futility of this sort of partisan revisionist nonsense.

  47. 47
    Brian J says:

    Typical liberal media! How dare they try to distort the facts. Everyone knows Reagan’s tax cuts brought us out of the Great Depression, yet we never once see this mentioned. Outrageous!

  48. 48
    Violet says:

    @Roger Moore, #56

    Do you see 56 comments in this thread? For me, your comment is only Comment # 45. Hmm….

  49. 49
    scav says:

    Whackjob Militia Leader soonergrunt, #4947209754923

    I can haz properly functioning country again frst?

  50. 50
    DougL (frmrly: Conservatively Liberal) says:

    Bachmann believes in Jeebus so that proves she is always right. You can tell by looking into her cow-like gaze that there is no intelligence there. All that matters to her is that she is one of the ‘chosen’ and that you are not. She is the Patron Saint of Stupid, which explains why her cow-eyed followers worship. She thrives on stupidity and it looks like the people in her district do too.

    It’s easy to see why everything is so fucked up when you think that people like Bush, Schmidt, DeMint, Bachmann and the like are considered intelligent and fit to hold office.

  51. 51
    dj spellchecka says:

    thanks for the link…this is what real journalism looks like…especially: “It was not, however, true.” how i wish [and i bet you do, too] that writers would use that phrase rather than their preferred ‘shape of earth, opinions differ’ approach….npr would improve its interviews with various gop congresscritters immensely if they simply included “It was not, however, true,” after every soundbite

  52. 52
    Violet says:

    @ DougL:

    I don’t think Bachmann thrives only on stupidity. She also requires fear and outrage. She’s nothing without those two. Stupid follows after those.

  53. 53
    cleek says:

    I’m still mystified on where this “worst preznit ever” meme comes from.

    it’s the equivalent of yelling “he can’t hit, he can’t hit, he can’t hit” when the opposing team’s best hitter is up.

  54. 54
    tomtom says:

    Jamestown wasn’t a socialist settlement, but Jonestown was.

    And it had death panels.

    So there!

  55. 55
    JGabriel says:

    Chyron HR:

    Furioso Ateo:

    FDR, worst president? Or worstest president?

    Not the worstest, silly. FDR was at least the right color.

    Yep. These are the kind of people who think FDR was the worst president ever, until Obama, and that the greatest presidents were George Bush and James Buchanan – who would have let the South secede.

    .

  56. 56
    The Main Gauche of Mild Reason says:

    Every time I see Bachmann rant on TV, I think of John Stewart’s term “free-range cougar Michelle Bachmann” and chuckle.

  57. 57
    TR says:

    this is what real journalism looks like…especially: “It was not, however, true.”

    Yep, that’s McClatchy for you. Actual journalism.

  58. 58
    Brick Oven Bill says:

    Mistermix.

    Jonestown was established by Jim Jones, an orator who preached ‘social justice’ to a congregation of largely third world people, and white women. Jim was a San Francisco Democrat. He took all of the income of his congregation, and used it for the collective.

    Intelligence is inherited, and equality was an attractive message for the unfortunate, stupid, and/or naïve people that Jim surrounded himself with, and empowered himself by.

    When the facts of his organization were investigated by a Democratic congressman, Jim directed that the Congressman be killed. His orders were followed.

    It is from Jim, that the term ‘drink the Kool Aid’ is derived.

    Here is a photograph illustrating late-stage mathematics-denial.

    Nice chair.

  59. 59
    Quackosaur says:

    @The Main Gauche of Mild Reason

    I think you underestimate the willingness of the inevitable Teabagger Revolution to advocate for the summary execution of those who would besmirch the good names of AMERIKA’S HE-ROS, thereby correcting the historical record to reflect that which is obviously true. The Revolution is only futile if it doesn’t succeed.

  60. 60
    JGabriel says:

    El Cid:

    … dragged it out of its parasite-infested, mud-road, starving worker, non-electrified, ultra-low wage, malnutrition-afflected, sparsely-schooled, sharecropping state of undevelopment.

    To be fair, the South is still afflicted with enjoying it’s god-given right to malnutrition, sparse schooling, and low wages.

    .

  61. 61
    mogden says:

    If you look at the history, the blame for FDR is not too far from the truth. There’s an EconTalk podcast on this with Bob Higgs that is really eye-opening.

    Higgs on the Great Depression

  62. 62
    Chyron HR says:

    When the facts of his organization were investigated by a Democratic congressman, Jim directed that the Congressman be killed.

    Out of deference to the wisdom of Sun City and Jon Anderson, we will avoid drawing any painfully obvious comparisons to modern political movements that call for the deaths of Congressmen.

  63. 63
    Hob says:

    I thought this was an unusually weak story for McClatchy. I mean, it gets the point across, but there’s this bit where the reporter says “The left has done it too” and the sole example given is Ward fucking Churchill. This is stupid in some obvious ways–

    a) Churchill is a fringe figure in every way, disowned by every politician who’s ever heard of him, and is contemptuous of 99% of lefty activists (he thinks they’re insufficiently violent)– you’ll certainly never hear a good word for him on TV; whereas the right-wing examples in the article include two fucking United States Congresspeople and two employees of national news(-ish) organizations;

    b) although his 9/11 remarks were (IMO) assholish in the extreme, the controversy wasn’t over errors of fact: the reporter makes him sound like a Truther, but Churchill never disputed that Al Qaeda did the deed, he just thought we deserved it;

    But what makes this really bad, rather than just a typical lazy gesture of “both sides do it, kinda”, is that the reporter clearly has no idea what this Ward Churchill stuff is about, and doesn’t care. He just drops in a super-vague quote about him from this one academic, about how Churchill distorted something or other, and doesn’t try to clarify or back it up in any way. It seems as if the interviewee could’ve said “Of course the left does it too, remember how uh… Max Bialystock was dishonest,” and the reporter would’ve just thought “Huh, OK, I think I’ve heard of that guy, whatever, I just need some token Democrat here” and written it down. To me, that’s just terrible reporting.

  64. 64
    Mike in NC says:

    I know we ain’t got no food, no land, no job, and no hope. But, at least we’re still better off than the f***ing N*****s in this town.”

    That sentiment is still quite applicable to about half the country, and at least 2/3rds living below the Mason-Dixon Line.

    It’s easy to see why everything is so fucked up when you think that people like Bush, Schmidt, DeMint, Bachmann and the like are considered intelligent and fit to hold office.

    When President Jim Bob Demented is sworn in as chief executive of the Neoconfederate States of North America in 2018, will he use the same Bible that Jeff Davis used?

  65. 65
    JGabriel says:

    mogden:

    … the blame for FDR is not too far from the truth. There’s an EconTalk podcast on this with Bob Higgs …

    Wikipedia:

    Robert Higgs (born 1 February 1944) is an American economist of the Austrian School and a libertarian anarchist.

    Ah, clearly an unbiased critique — no ideological conflicts there.

    While listening to a libertarian blame FDR for a depression that started three and a half years before he took office – and had increased unemployment to 29% before he even took the presidential oath – is no doubt amusing, I think I’ll pass.

    .

  66. 66
    jacy says:

    @ Brick Oven Bill

    Acutally “drinking the Kool-Aid” originated with the practice of Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters and the “Kool-Aid Acid Test” where followers had to drink Kool-Aid laced with LSD.

    This preceeded Jonestown by a number of years, so while Jonestown will still fit perfectly under the umbrella of “drinking the Kool-Aid” it is not the origin of the phrase.

    The Merry Pranksters example is actually much more apropos for the way the term is generally used to describe synchophants and “true believers” in a political sense.

  67. 67
    Whackjob Militia Leader soonergrunt says:

    @BoB, #58

    Jonestown was established by Jim Jones…When the facts of his organization were investigated by a Democratic congressman, Jim directed that the Congressman be killed…His orders were followed…It is from Jim, that the term ‘drink the Kool Aid’ is derived.

    The only thing from that whole screed that actually had any relationship to actual truth or the topic of discussion.

    Behold, shorter BoB:
    Jonestown was started by Jones. Conservatives want those who disagree with them, Democrats, killed. “Drink the Kool-Aid” has come to refer to blind cultism, such as is practiced by modern conservatives.

  68. 68
    Redleg says:

    Bachmann and the rest of the Know-Nothings have learned that the “mainstream media” won’t question their obvious lies and revisions to history. I expect much much more of the same nonsense in the future.

  69. 69
    JGabriel says:

    Brick Oven Bill:

    Intelligence is inherited …

    You shouldn’t slander your parents like that, BOB. It shows a distinct lack of family values.

    .

  70. 70
    dj spellchecka says:

    @hob…while i will still praise the story, [see#51], i agree that the inclusion of ward churchill was the worst kind of false equivalency….

  71. 71
    mogden says:

    @jgabriel

    You are right, he definitely has a bias. I just find it interesting to listen to different sides, to try to work out my own opinion based on the arguments that make the most sense to me. I was never exposed to that kind of opinion growing up, and I must say, I find it interesting and rather compelling.

  72. 72
    Hob says:

    mogden: You’re misinformed. Yes, some right-wingers have written books to that effect, but if by “look at the history” you mean look at history as the overwhelming majority of historians see it, that’s a fringe viewpoint that’s taken even less seriously than “the Civil War had nothing to do with slavery.” There’s certainly disagreement among historians about how effective some New Deal programs were, and it’s not particularly controversial to say that WW II was what finally did away with the Depression, but there’s absolutely no support for Higgs’s position that neither the New Deal nor the war helped at all.

  73. 73
    WereBear says:

    Lawzy.

    When President Jim Bob Demented is sworn in as chief executive of the Neoconfederate States of North America in 2018, will he use the same Bible that Jeff Davis used?

    Now that’s an alternate history/horror novel in the making.

  74. 74
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @cleek #53:

    it’s the equivalent of yelling “he can’t hit, he can’t hit, he can’t hit” when the opposing team’s best hitter is up.

    The venom directed at Obama is also an attempt to oppose and undermine one of his larger political objectives, which is to calm the country down and re-knit the ties that bind us together. I think Obama gets something which a lot of pundits miss: the US doesn’t just hold together as a unified country by default, instead it takes effort and attention on the part of our leaders from time to time. We are like a U-235 atom waiting for the right neutron to come along and trigger the fission process. It happened in the 1770s, it happened again in 1861, and it came close to happening in the late 1960s and early 1970s. One of the things a great president does is to tamp down those fires and rebuild the foundational sense that we are all in this together – which is what helps get us through the bad times. Obama is trying to do that, they are trying to make him fail at it.

  75. 75
    Zach says:

    The Hamilton one is particularly rich given that Alexander Hamilton is the main reason why there’s no chance in hell that health care reform will be overturned in court based on any of the constitutional arguments we’re hearing now.

  76. 76
    mogden says:

    @Hob

    It is not a mainstream view, that’s for sure. However, I think if you listen to the arguments, there is a compelling case to be made.

  77. 77
    Whackjob Militia Leader soonergrunt says:

    @Hob, #63:
    To say nothing of the fact that NOBODY had ever heard of Ward Churchill outside of his family and the vanishingly small community around the Ethnic Studies department at CU Boulder.

  78. 78
    Dr. Psycho says:

    Soonergrunt@22, I don’t think we needed to go completely Stalinist, but we definitely should have permanently revoked their citizenship, including the right to own land or firearms, and given preference to Freedmen for filling public office.

    Stuck to our guns, so to speak, on the much revisionist-reviled Reconstruction, IOW.

  79. 79
    Sly says:

    @mogden, 61

    Given that Higgs and other Austrian Schoolers insist that the entirety of the Great Depression was nothing more than a giant liquidity squeeze, I’m not gonna bother with the podcast. I’ve seen it all before, generally whenever my shithead libertarian brother-in-law sends me links to the Mises Institute or Lew Rockwell’s site.

  80. 80
    El Cid says:

    I’ve listened to lots and lots of arguments that FDR worsened the Depression or didn’t help fix it.

    They’re not convincing. Not to me, not to historians, not to citizens or most politicians of the time, not to the contemporary leaders of industry.

    Just ultra-conservative anti-federal ideologues.

  81. 81
    John Ball says:

    @mistermix: Oh, I can tell you why they don’t go for Madison–he’s Jefferson’s buddy who switched sides because he had misgivings about the Hamiltonian Federalists. Man who thinks things over and changes his views–not the kind of guy you want as your intellectual forefather. (And honestly, Madison wasn’t a conservative either.)

    But they do like his quotes on guns.

  82. 82
    JGabriel says:

    Mogden:

    However, I think if you listen to the arguments, there is a compelling case to be made.

    How can there possibly be a compelling case that FDR is responsible for a depression that started 3.5 years before he took office?

    It’s ridiculous. It’s partisan, ideological, revisionism that’s disproven by both the 9 years leading up to the stock market crash and real estate market failures of the Hoover administration, and the two decades leading up to the Bush administration’s stagnant employment growth and eventual crashing of the American economy 2007-2008.

    .

  83. 83
    LD50 says:

    When FDR took office in March 1933, we had experienced fourteen straight quarters of negative economic growth and a full 29% of the adult population was unemployed.

    Ah, but if you’re a Republican, Democrats can cause recessions before they even take office. Some sort of liberal cooties, or something.

    The funniest part of these New Deal denialists is that they insist Roosevelt’s big spending government ways made things worse, and that it wasn’t until WWII when the economy showed any signs of improvement—when, you know, Roosevelt’s big spending government did even more big government spending.

    Ah, but if you’re a Republican, the Military doesn’t count as government spending!

    I am convinced the purpose of giving loons like Bachmann a public forum is to slowly condition Americans to lose all sense of the difference between reality and bullshit. To create a society where whether you’re right is judged by what side you’re on and how loudly you yell. Most Americans are already there.

  84. 84
    Dean Wormer says:

    @ Whackjob:

    Simple BoB the Pieman is actually confusing Jonestown with Jamestown (as referenced in the actual crazy, quoted by McClatchy).

    PROTip: lots of dead in both scenarios, but no Kool-Aid in 1607.

  85. 85
    Mike in NC says:

    I think if you listen to the arguments, there is a compelling case to be made.

    Whatever floats your boat, as they say, but along with the revisionist libertarian bullshit, you could crack open David M. Kennedy’s “Freedom From Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929-1945” (Oxford 1999), a winner of the Pulitzer Prize.

    Almost 1000 pages long, but it does cover the shortcomings, contradictions, and failures of the New Deal.

    You could also talk to some of the people who lived through those rough times, for their own personal recollections and opinions. Many, like my parents, are gone now.

  86. 86
    Dr. Psycho says:

    Not only did FDR’s policies beat back the Depression, they did it twice: http://www.digitalhistory.uh.e.....m?HHID=480

    Regarding Obama as the “worst Preznit ever”, this is because the Right don’t think very clearly or very originally, so they just take whatever we were saying about Bush and change the names. I’m not kidding: I even saw a Teabagger with a sign saying, “Will Someone Please Give Obama a Blowjob So We Can Impeach Him?”, clearly missing the point of the original joke — and when you miss the point of a blowjob joke, that doesn’t speak well of your faculties.

    Regarding who was worst, worster or worstest, I have concluded after a careful study of Presidential raiment that Chester Alan Arthur was the worstedest President ever.

  87. 87
    Rick Taylor says:

    Isn’t this just modern standard boilerplate Republican doctrine these days? I’m not trying to be snarky; I don’t think you needed to find a crazy ringer like Bachman to make this point. I think it’s the common wisdom among most modern day conservatives. I’d be delighted to be proven wrong.

  88. 88
    Hob says:

    @dj spellchecka: And I agree that it’s refreshing to see any mass media outlet using phrases like “not true”. I guess that’s why I get extra annoyed when, in the very same article, they do something so boneheaded that it could make one wonder about the reporter’s own grasp of reality. I mean, it’s not just that Churchill isn’t representative of “the left”– it’s that the thing he was (appropriately) denounced for had nothing to do with distorting history, at all. It’s like including Martha Stewart in a list of celebrities who were convicted of murder. I can’t believe that the reporter had a clue as to who Fischer was talking about, or did any homework beyond the recent news clippings he already had about Armey etc. That’s really amateurish, high-school-paper stuff, and it’s particularly bad in a story whose subject is people saying misleading things.

  89. 89
    LD50 says:

    I’m just wondering why a Minnesota gal is buying all this redneck bullshit lock, stock and barrel. Its as if she’s been reading every self-published book that came out of the South over the past 40 years.

    Because neo-Confederates are redefining what it means to be a conservative in this country. It’s been going on for a while. Southerners are also trying hard to redefine what it means to be a Christian.

  90. 90
    El Cid says:

    The United States only recovered from the Democrat Great Depression when the Newt Gingrich Congress took over. It’s clear.

  91. 91
    Gordon, The Big Express Engine says:

    This has been mentioned here before, but the Carter bashing is in part an effort to boost the aura of Ronald Reagen. The worse Carter becomes in the political consciousness, the better Reagan looks by comparison.

  92. 92
    Bob L says:

    JGabriel @

    How can there possibly be a compelling case that FDR is responsible for a depression that started 3.5 years before he took office?

    Sociulizm! That’s how. FDR’s policies were so bad they warped the space time continuum that created a depression that went back in time and created a massive credit driven bull market in the 1920s and a climate disaster in the Midwest.

  93. 93
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @LD50 #83:

    Ah, but if you’re a Republican, Democrats can cause recessions before they even take office. Some sort of liberal cooties, or something.

    Not to mention that the Great Depression was a global event. The US was a very important part of the international system of trade and finance in the 1930s, but we didn’t cause the GD all by ourselves. Wingers who blame FDR for the GD are as usual simply ignoring the rest of world as if those funny speaking furriners are nothing more than the background scenery for our own self-centered little soap operas.

  94. 94
    El Cid says:

    Not to focus on FDR to the exclusion of Jamestown “soshullism”, but George Will tried to play this “FDR worsened a recession into the Great Depression and only WWII” — not how “WWII” becomes its own reified entity, apart from FDR’s government domestically — “saved the U.S. economy”, particularly when the Reaganite fetish to deregulate / non-regulate / anti-regulate the banking/financial system caused yet another collapse which had not taken place in the 50 years after the Great Depression.

    And once or twice Will tried to pull this shit on ABC’s “This Weak” and Krugman was there to show Will as the lying little squirmer he is.

  95. 95
    mcd410x says:

    Pity the American people didn’t rise up and vote him out of office for this outlandishness … either the first, second or third time of asking.

  96. 96
    Hob says:

    @Dr. Psycho: Well sure, because in order for them to actually get that joke, they’d have to accept that a) the impeachment was bullshit, b) the way that all went down (so to speak) more or less proved that the “liberal media” is bullshit, and c) having sex with George W. Bush would be a horrible heroic sacrifice.

  97. 97
    RSA says:

    In a bit of synchronicity, teabaggers like Bachmann blame Roosevelt for the mistakes of his predecessor, one of the ten worst presidents in history (as judged by historians), and they similarly blame Obama for the mistakes of his predecessor, one of the ten worst… well, you get the idea.

  98. 98
    WereBear says:

    slowly condition Americans to lose all sense of the difference between reality and bullshit

    In all seriousness, I think this is Teh Plan.

    It explains mass media at this point, doesn’t it?

  99. 99
    kay says:

    We’re all just living in the house that FDR built, and that’s what rankles conservatives.

    They’ve never been able to completely dismantle that basic structure.

    People like having a floor and a roof, I think, some fences, keep the predators out.

  100. 100
    PTirebiter says:

    @CAinCA

    “Congress Caused Dust Bowl”

    Misguided messaging aside, Congress did cause the dust bowl. Giving away land that wasn’t meant to be farmed and creating artificially high wheat prices led to the speculation.

  101. 101
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @El Cid #94

    yet another collapse which had not taken place in the 50 years after the Great Depression.

    A really important question which never seems to come up is: why didn’t we go right back into another deep depression after WW2 ended? There was a severe but brief recession in the late 1940s, but no depression, and ditto for the business cycle in the 1950s. IMHO the redistributive effects of the very high marginal tax rates during the Truman and Eisenhower admins combined with that money being spent on infrastructure, the GI bill, etc. pumped money into the middle class where it was spent rapidly as the consumer economy boomed. That was what kept deflation at bay, moving money into the hands of folks who spent rather than the investing class – a lesson more than a little bit applicable to our situation today.

  102. 102
    El Cid says:

    As I said here yesterday, McClatchy’s “balancing” of right wing mainstream political and academic (school textbook Stalinist re-writing) distortion of history with Ward Fucking Churchill, who was followed no one outside a tiny coterie of, I dunno, Cultural Studies reading courses, and not even ‘followed’ in the precedent-setting sense, was utterly ludicrous and phenomenally lazy bullshitting.

  103. 103
    Newsie8200 says:

    If I were having a discussion with Bachmann or a Bachmann acolyte, I’d just simply question the logic…

    If FDR were responsible for the Great Depression, would he have been re-elected so many times? No, of course not.

  104. 104
    Sly says:

    @Mogden:

    The case is compelling only when put all your eggs in one basket (interest rates are all that matter!) and you leave out important pieces of data that thoroughly refute your claims, such as the explosion in margin loans in the late 20s or the large amount of capital sitting in T-Bills collecting less than 1% throughout the 30s.

    The only group of economists who come close to doing this on the level of the Austrian Schoolers are the old Marxists and, maybe, the Supply-Siders.

  105. 105
    Roger Moore says:

    How can there possibly be a compelling case that FDR is responsible for a depression that started 3.5 years before he took office?

    Because it agrees with the ideology of the people making the claim. Their approach to research is to pick conclusions first based on their ideology and hunt for facts that confirm it later (if ever). Once you adopt that basic “thought” pattern, it’s easy to reach any conclusion you like, no matter how crazy and illogical.

  106. 106
    El Cid says:

    On this:

    why didn’t we go right back into another deep depression after WW2 ended? There was a severe but brief recession in the late 1940s, but no depression, and ditto for the business cycle in the 1950s

    There were many, many factors — some you might describe as “endogenous” and others “exogenous”.

    Endogenous factors would be the huuuuge investment in development and human capital from the New Deal through WWII, including a decade of boosted employment and pay for so, so many people — the opposite of the long term injury we’re doing ourselves right now with long-term un- and under-employment.

    This is not to suggest that earlier administrations weren’t facilitating investment and development — they were, contrary to fantasies of pre-New Deal libertardia. But those benefits hadn’t spread to the majority of the nation and anywhere nearly as much to the average worker or farmer.

    On the downside, some have considered that it might be ‘easier’ to experience rapid and fairly sustained growth going from a largely underdeveloped status to a developed economy, and further sources of growth become more complicated.

    Going from having no roads to having good roads is a huge boost, or from chronically malnourished and infected workers and families to comparatively healthy workers & families is one thing; to go to the next levels, more difficult, and may seem to involve more complicated choices.

    Exogenous factors include the temporary destruction of most of our manufacturing competitors, the Marshall Plan’s calculated boost of European purchases of American good, the increased resource extraction and exploitation of the U.S. of its Latin American pseudo-colonies.

    Real scholars go into much more depth and details.

  107. 107
    El Cid says:

    If you said to MBachmannn:

    If FDR were responsible for the Great Depression, would he have been re-elected so many times? No, of course not.

    Then the answer would be that FDR’s communist allies and ACORN stole all those elections.

  108. 108
    Sly says:

    @El Cid

    Their argument is that, and I’m not making this shit up, FDR “bribed” voters with jobs and mortgage relief. Alf Landon would have kicked his ass if FDR didn’t so unscrupulously make people’s lives less shitty.

  109. 109
    El Cid says:

    Sly:

    Their argument is that, and I’m not making this shit up, FDR “bribed” voters with jobs and mortgage relief. Alf Landon would have kicked his ass if FDR didn’t so unscrupulously make people’s lives less shitty.

    This is true. The only true leaders are those chosen by Americans after those leaders had made their lives demonstrably worse.

    Therefore Hoover was a true leader, who did not buy his votes from the American public by pushing aid and development plans until quite late in his administration, and for this reason the best President of all time was McKinley.

  110. 110
    TR says:

    We’re all just living in the house that FDR built, and that’s what rankles conservatives.

    And for many Americans, that house is a literal one. The widespread phenomenon of most Americans owning, and moreover keeping, their own home has largely been a result of the new mortgage plans that FDR instituted with the HOLC, FHA, and after the GI Bill — which was the welfare state at its finest — the VA.

    Before the New Deal, you’d have to pony up about half the value of a house and pay it back the remainder of the loan within 10 years or so. If not, the house was reclaimed by the bank. But the HOLC and FHA guaranteed private lenders against any losses and perfected the long-term, self-amortizing mortgage with uniform payments, meaning you could now put down just 20% or 10% as a down payment and pay the rest back over 30 or 40 years.

    More than that, FHA policies are what created the suburbs, plain and simple. William Levitt and all the other postwar builders got into the business and made a killing because of the FHA and VA programs.

    One of the great accomplishments of the New Deal was the creation of a secure and stable homeowning middle class.

  111. 111
    Steeplejack says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ #74:

    I think Obama gets something which a lot of pundits miss: the U.S. doesn’t just hold together as a unified country by default [. . .].

    Not just pundits–politicians and ordinary citizens, too. I am amazed at the number of people who seem to think the good ol’ U.S. of A. will just keep rockin’ along on autopilot. We neglect our infrastructure for years. We don’t worry about funding two simultaneous wars. We inflame and coarsen our public dialogue with stupid political theater and outlandish charges. Most of us can’t even be bothered to vote. But, hey, no worries, right? Everything is being taken care of by adults in charge somewhere. Riiight . . .

  112. 112
    kay says:

    One of the great accomplishments of the New Deal was the creation of a secure and stable homeowning middle class.

    Thanks. I believe you. But think about how BIG that is. “Creating” a class.
    I understand, to certain extent, the panic among conservatives with Obama’s election. I don’t really believe in the Great Man theory of history. I think events conspire to produce conditions, and then people address those conditions (or not).
    FDR came along at one of those times, and Reagan came along at one of those times, and I think Obama came along at one of those times. FDR is unique because Americans left him in charge so long, so he has a huge footprint.
    They recognize the time. That there’s change afoot. There is going to be change and they are not in charge, or in control. If it’s any comfort to them, I recognized Reagan’s appearance at a particular moment in time (later: I wasn’t old enough to get it while it was occurring) and I worried a lot about that.

  113. 113
    LuciaMia says:

    Yes, it’s a RW cherished ‘truthy-ism’ that FDR’s New Deal did nothing to help the country out of the Great Depression and may even had made things worse.
    So now they’re dialing it up to 11 and claiming he created it? Priceless. Just like GW Bush inherited his recession and 9/11.

  114. 114
    morzer says:

    El Cid

    To Linda Feathergill:
    Exactly. People simply do not know nor comprehend how this nation before the New Deal was substantially undeveloped, worst of all the American South.
    And before WWI, most of the country was what people today imagine the 19th century was like

    There’s a reason Louisiana loved Huey Long – and it wasn’t his singing. He took on the corporations, got things done, built roads and schools. The GOP have spent years calling him corrupt, but he did more for Louisiana than anyone else ever has.

  115. 115
    dww44 says:

    Some comments from a Southerner of a certain age:

    El Cid is absolutely correct about what the South was like before FDR. Heck, FDR came here lots before he was President and saw first hand the poverty that rural Southerners, both black and white, lived in. Heck, there’s a picture at the state FDR park near Warm Springs that has an uncle in a picture of the CCC workers who built the cabins there. Yet, it is those very self-same relatives who now malign the New Deal, particularly their off-spring, now Republicans all, who dispute the real history of what happened.

    I deplore the false equivalency out there as I don’t see any leftist extremism and am sick to death of TV and internet pundits who insist that there is. Chuck Todd on Hardball last night, in response to Matthews decrying the most recent Limbaugh comments, posited that it was Obama’s fault because he was calling out Limbaugh, Beck, Fox News, et al . Todd implied that Obama was thus somewhat responsible for the state of the vitriolic body politic as no other prior President did this. Huh? Wonder why, since no other President was considered a failure before he took office and no other President has endured the absolute level of public disrespect that this President has. No racism, nah! I really really don’t like Chuck Todd. He is a closet conservative pretending to be an unbiased journalist. Worse than Hannity and the rest for that reason alone.

    Now that there are billboard signs springing up in Atlanta calling Obama a socialist and worse and to vote the liberals out in November (notwithstanding there’s a little town nearby where the owner of the little Dairy Lane has parlayed his profits into purchasing a bunch of billboards where he spews conservative misinformation), I really believe the level of propaganda resulting in a total rewrite of our history is dangerously high.

    We have to fight and simultaneously hope that the right contines to move ever rightward to Never Never Land and that enough of the country will recognize that and vote against them getting the reins of government. Too dangerous for the country if the crazies take control. There is no sanity left in the GOP.

    If I were wealthy, I think I would purchase a few billboards myself and counter those falsehoods, although, personally, they are all a real blight on the landscape. Could even upgrade to one of those led enhanced marquee like billboards with their constantly changing images, except that many consider them a safety hazard, to drivers, that is.

  116. 116
    Dr. Psycho says:

    El Cid @ 27:

    And before WWI, most of the country was what people today imagine the 19th century was like.

    But before WWI, it was the 19th Century, which began in 1815 with the fall of Napoleon and ended in 1914 with the beginning of the war.

    The 20th Century began in 1914 and ended in 1989 with the fall of the Berlin Wall. Yes, that means the 20th Century only lasted 75 years — believe me, that was plenty.

  117. 117
    Bruce Webb says:

    I just find it interesting to listen to different sides, to try to work out my own opinion based on the arguments that make the most sense to me. I was never exposed to that kind of opinion growing up, and I must say, I find it interesting and rather compelling.

    Mogden that just means you were lucky enough to not have picked up Atlas Shrugged as an impressionable teen-ager. Those of us who did found it amazingly interesting and compelling until we figured out it was a simple mixture of clever story-telling plus soft porn rather than any coherent economic or philosophic argument.

    I mean for a typical teenage boy which side are you going to side with? The one that has the totally hot and in the end sexually available babes? Or the side led by some mousy schlub named Wesley Mouch? Mouse/Mouch/Mooch, let’s just say Rand, essentially an Austrian School populizer, wasn’t exactly subtle.

    Modern day Austrian School people are simply packaging the same narrative hooks into a story compelling on the surface, just absent the sex. (Mostly. Because if you want to get insight into the mindset of American Austrians you can do no better than checking out the web-site of one of the most prominent of them: Professor Bryan Caplan of the Economics Department of George Mason University (ground central for American economic wingnuttery). http://www.bcaplan.com/ While the color scheme and the link to “My graphic novel Amore Infernale” might lead you to believe this is an elaborate parody of Randite Fanboyism, it is the real thing, it is like a descent into the Heart of Darkness.

    MOST——GARISH——–WEBSITE——-EVER

    Yet the chosen face of a tenured Professor of Economics. Don’t forget to check out the link to the Museum of Communism. If you want to know where Doughy Pantload Goldberg got the inspiration for Liberal Fascism you got to check out the mind and imagination of Prof. C.)

  118. 118
    LD50 says:

    I think Obama gets something which a lot of pundits miss: the U.S. doesn’t just hold together as a unified country by default [. . .].

    I quite honestly think that conservatives don’t care whether the US holds together as a unified country. Conservatives have spent the last 20 years going with ‘split the country in half and grab the larger half’ as their guiding principle, and if that means riling up 50.1% of the population to hate homos, liberals and nonwhites above all else, then that’s fine with them. Conservatives don’t care about the harm this does the country, and I doubt they even envision ever ‘unifying’ the country — I think their ultimate aim is to simply reconfigure the courts, congress, schools and media such that everyone that they don’t like is marginalized into invisibility.

  119. 119
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @kay #112:

    I don’t really believe in the Great Man theory of history. I think events conspire to produce conditions, and then people address those conditions (or not).

    Seems about right to me. One of the striking things about the wiki link to Presidential rankings which TR #36 posted above is the color coded chart midway down in the article, which contains some strikingly non-random patterns in the way the good and the bad are distributed. There is solid band of green-blue (=high rank) for the first 7 presidents, and another solid band of green-blue for FDR thru LBJ, and a moderately good stretch from Grover Cleveland thru Wilson. And then lots of red-orange (=low rank) for pretty much the whole rest of US history with a few exceptions (Lincoln) that really jump out. So except for a few lone individuals like Lincoln, we had sustained periods of high quality presidential leadership only at the start of the US, and during the mid-20th Cen, and to a lesser extent from the Gilded Age thru WW1.

  120. 120
    El Cid says:

    Dr. Psycho, of course, that’s accurate, I just meant that I think most people thinking of the early 20th century don’t grasp that for so much of America, it wasn’t that changed in daily experience from what they think of, whatever, the ante-bellum period. In talking to people, most who seem to have any notion at all think of roads, telephones, electricity, the beginning of automobiles. Maybe it would prompt more understanding to suggest the 1700s or some such.

  121. 121

    I don’t really believe in the Great Man theory of history. I think events conspire to produce conditions, and then people address those conditions (or not).

    Hmm, so events create themselves? The “Great Man” as Saint or Perfect is horseshit – see FDR’s failings or… To assert that conditions are just addressed is … goofy. You can track the policies that led to the Great Depression – in the hands of many, but still created. FDR may be Great because of how he dealt with conditions he didn’t create, but someone did create them. If we were talking about a 10 R earthquake you might have a point – we’re not.

    Minus the Great Depression would FDR have had the political capital to do what he did? Probably not but proactive politics is extremely rare. In FDR’s time the outcomes of policies regarding margins, etc, were there to look at and he acted. They were still there, 30yrs ago, and we got here – somehow. Minus a catastrophe people tend to ignore really great competence – but one could assert that there wasn’t an actual catastrophe in the arena of Civil Rights. You could look to Eisenhower and the Interstate Highway system for proactiveness and large outcomes.

  122. 122
    kay says:

    So except for a few lone individuals like Lincoln, we had sustained periods of high quality presidential leadership only at the start of the US, and during the mid-20th Cen, and to a lesser extent from the Gilded Age thru WW1.

    Oh, good, Data to prove my half-ass fuzzy theory!

    I recoil a little from any of that Great Man stuff just because it always seems to lead directly to hero worship, and conservatives rely on it with Reagan, so it’s probably wrong-headed.

    It occurred to me during the primary and general election that both Obama and HRC brought up “the time” (not the person) again and again, and McCain completely missed that whole aspect.

  123. 123
    Dr. Psycho says:

    I think there’s a case to be made for a Great Ass theory of history: conditions create the so-called Great Men, but a person who is a big enough ass can blow his/her chance to be great.

    Prominent examples include James Buchanan and Herbert Hoover.

  124. 124
    kay says:

    Minus the Great Depression would FDR have had the political capital to do what he did? Probably not but proactive politics is extremely rare.

    Well, no. That was my point. I know that people created the conditions that FDR addressed, so it’s unlike an earthquake, what I don’t know is if that individual (FDR) was crucial or uniquely essential to that response.

  125. 125

    that individual (FDR) was crucial

    Maybe you should ask Hoover that question. Cripes.

  126. 126
    fourmorewars says:

    Yeah, I’m giving the article a C+ ’cause of the Churchill thing too, but the Churchill thing is so pernicious on a deeper level. Not only is he one lonely, marginalized figure used by the entire MSM to be their conscience-easing balancer against a right saturated wall-to-wall with crazy that extends to its highest councils, but he’s also used because they can focus on one man, with his over-the-top comments (and the useful petty academic controversies attached to him), and use him to marginalize the whole body of work out there, from scores of respected figures, that tries to look soberly and objectively over our dealings in the Mideast, warts and all.

    Face it, McClatchy isn’t more willing, to any significant degree, than any of the rest of the Grand Punditry, to come within ten miles of honestly discussing the historic cause-and-effect of our dealings in the wider world, in lieu of the tooth-fairy official version of complete American benevolence/innocence that’s the only version allowed among Serious People.

  127. 127
    El Cid says:

    It should be recalled that during the Great Depression and New Deal, much of (though certainly not all of) the super-rich membership of the capitalist class (the Rockefellers, other large conglomerate chiefs and owners and the ‘think tanks’ etc. they sponsored) were very much in favor or had for a while been writing and sponsoring the sorts of reforms carried out by FDR’s administration and his Congressional coalition.

    Much of the capitalist class and super-wealthy elites around the Western world during the Depression didn’t want their base of operations and home nations to just fall apart or, worse, be taken over by revolutionary movements of one sort or another, worst of all, Communists.

    In the U.S. you certainly had reactionary business organizations like the National Association of Manufacturers, but you also had the corporate-sponsored organizations which had staffed many of the advisory and supervisory positions of New Deal era programs.

    For example, here is a good review of the capitalist class origins of the social insurance system we know as the Social Security Act, whose passage was certainly controversial and backed by labor and then-soshullist organizations, but now has been re-written, falsely, as some sort of anti-capitalist Marxism.

  128. 128
    kay says:

    Maybe you should ask Hoover that question. Cripes.

    I’m not denigrating that person, Chuck. I absolutely recognize that he was profoundly important, and I’m a big fan of competence.
    All I’m saying is I don’t know. Hillary thought she was uniquely suited to be President during the period she anticipated, and so did Obama.

  129. 129

    Damn Kay, you seem to think that it is quite ordinary for people to make a huge break with the status quo just because things go south. That IS NOT the case. What FDR (and Congress) did was to overturn a societal/economic norm in this country. Goddam this idea that great events demand a great man can be taken to the point of failing to see that there are plenty of great events with assholes in charge.

    Using FDR, are you missing the fact that the Great Depression was on when he was elected and that someone else was in charge before he was elected?

  130. 130
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @kay #121

    I prefer neither the Great Man theory nor the annales school approach, but rather a sort of hybrid which I call the Plate Tectonics theory of history. Which is that cultural, economic and technological change tends to creep along slowly while the political structure of society resists change from below until the misfit between the two becomes so great that a rupture occurs (a “historyquake” if you like) – which can be triggered by something small and more or less accidental (e.g. the Franz Ferdinand getting hisself shot in 1914). At the point a lot of change can occur in a short amount of time as the political structure seeks a new relationship with the foundational elements of our world, and at times like this lone individuals can wield great influence (both for good and for ill), until a new more or less stable equilibrium is established. Wash, rinse, repeat.

  131. 131
    bemused says:

    Bachmann’s church sure has a lenient stance on lying your butt off.
    I had to laugh at reading that MN R’s Paulsen & Kline, not moderates, won’t join her in signing on to repeal HCR.

  132. 132

    How in the hell is Hillary or Obama relevant? There is no Hillary presidency and Barack Obama has been President for a pretty short time. One does need to be able to look back at a body of work and take some measure of the outcomes.

    I’m quite willing to go along with the idea that conditions and Obama’s unique personality conspired to make him the first black President, but to go much beyond that at this stage is … goofy.

    Herbert Hoover had the same information available that FDR had, his choices had their outcomes and FDR’s had his. Hoove wasn’t a fucking idiot, but he was bound by who he was and his dedication to the status quo. FDR risked a lot and faced huge and determined opposition – what is it exactly that you think a Hooveresque President would have done in his place? Or a GWB or a RR?

  133. 133

    Plate techtonics of history? Well yes, the tension between slave holding and abolition had been brewing for quite awhile and minus Lincoln and the Sessesion would have continued to to boil until something happened. Lincoln and the Civil War are intertwined, neither is an outcome of their own nor is the resolution of the Civil War. This is sort of like the economic system of the Roaring Twenties was the Great Depression in motion before it smashed. How was that dealt with and by whom?

  134. 134
    kay says:

    Goddam this idea that great events demand a great man can be taken to the point of failing to see that there are plenty of great events with assholes in charge.

    Oh, I see that. I saw 9-11 with an asshole in charge. But a lot of FDR’s decisions were driven by events. He knew he needed a particular Court composition to allow the u-turn he intended to take place, and then that Court composition drove further really ideological changes, and on and on. I see that individual as a driver, but not as in complete control of events as they transpired. I believe he had an overarching goal. I think it took a lot of people and pieces to come together.

  135. 135

    This plate techtonics thing holds the seeds of its own destruction. The most glaring example is technology, one of the hugest drivers of social/economic change for centuries. What is missing is that between the Greeks and Romans technology was on the verge of skyrocketing, all the pieces were there – instead centuries of crap ensued. That hole was leadership driven, not conditional. Yes, there were a hell of a lot of actors, but it sure wasn’t the environmental conditions because those were otherwise.

    Something else to lay at Popes’ feet… ;-)

  136. 136
    Robert Waldmann says:

    The article reminds me of the immortal line from A Fish Called Wanda “Aristotle was not Belgian.”

  137. 137
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @Chuck Butcher #132:

    I’m confused as to what you arguing for or against here.

    I’m not reading anybody here as arguing that FDR was not a great President who pushed thru immense and beneficial changes in US society. The argument I’m hearing here is between a template for understanding history known as the “Great Man” theory which implies that all such periods can be understood as having been driven by similar individuals – essentially history as the biography of various leaders and trailblazers, and on the other hand the view that individuals don’t matter that much, not as much as the zeitgeist (which then somehow mysteriously evokes the people needed to do justice to it), or as much as lower level social changes amonst the hoi polloi which did not merit the attention of traditional historians until the Annales school.

  138. 138

    TLTABQ, either is horseshit.

    It is a goofy exercise to take the people out of the equation, remove LBJ & MLK and who is left and how would they play out? But then LBJ had that Vietnam thing but you have to look to JFK & Eisenhower on that … You cannot take the events out of the equation either, at some point Civil Rights was going to boil over, but how it played out from there is open to question.

    I gave you the technology example for a reason, the conditions were one way, leadership another and the outcome was leadership determined, not conditionally.

    Great men are not just forces for good, Hitler or Stalin might be good examples of shattering forces of change.

  139. 139
    Redshift says:

    @Main Gauche #28: I think it’s also part of a general pattern of “accuse the Dems of whatever they’ve accused you of, whether it makes any sense or not, so the media will report it as a partisan squabble rather than examine the merits of the accusation.”

    Hence, because there was lots of talk about W being the worst president ever, they gin up the same for Obama, in the hope that it will become “everyone always does that when they’re out of power.” (Refer to accusations of massive corruption, abuse of the filibuster, etc., etc.)

    I don’t think it will work for this, because I don’t think historians are as susceptible to it as pundits are, but I think that’s what they’re trying.

  140. 140

    Redshift,
    Historians? This little back and forth just preceding you is essentially historical ideology, I happen to think both “schools” are horseshit but it isn’t a new argument.

  141. 141
    AnotherBruce says:

    I don’t think it will work for this, because I don’t think historians are as susceptible to it as pundits are, but I think that’s what they’re trying.

    Actually, what they are trying to replace are historians. I think it’s hard to overstate how dangerous this is.

  142. 142
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @Chuck Butcher #134

    What is missing is that between the Greeks and Romans technology was on the verge of skyrocketing, all the pieces were there – instead centuries of crap ensued. That hole was leadership driven, not conditional.

    I really can’t quite wrap my head around this statement, which is perhaps my failing rather than yours. It sounds like you think that Greco-Roman world was poised on the brink of a technology driven florescence which failed due to bad leadership.

    IIRC there were a few other things essential in making a jump to the late pre-modern western world, like (just to grab a few examples off the top of my head) Indo/Arabic mathematics, a society less tolerant of mass slavery (to make labor saving inventions valuable and worth investing in), the development of water based mechanical power in the rather different ecological environment of northwest and central Europe, all of the inventions transmitted from Song dynasty China, and many other things which were missing from the late Hellenistic and Roman periods, none of which were leadership driven except in a very indirect way (e.g. changes in the pattern of cultural and technological diffusion from Song and Yuan dynasty China to the western end of Eurasia in the wake of the Mongol conquests – not to mention the epidemiological consequences – could be considered a result of the unusually high quality of the Mongol leadership at the time).

    On the other hand if the whole topic pisses you off I’m happy to let it drop. I’m not looking to get into an argument here, this is just idle banter as far as I’m concerned.

  143. 143
    BC says:

    Redshift @139: Yes, the party of “personal responsibility” is running like hell away from having any responsibility for the failure of their 6 years of total control of US government and 8 years of executive control. That’s why I laugh my ass off when I hear someone from GOP talk about how they value “personal responsibility” – not when they have to be accountable.

  144. 144
    morzer says:

    This plate techtonics thing holds the seeds of its own destruction. The most glaring example is technology, one of the hugest drivers of social/economic change for centuries. What is missing is that between the Greeks and Romans technology was on the verge of skyrocketing, all the pieces were there – instead centuries of crap ensued. That hole was leadership driven, not conditional. Yes, there were a hell of a lot of actors, but it sure wasn’t the environmental conditions because those were otherwise

    .

    Sorry, but this is flat wrong. The pieces were not there. There was little if any institutionalized science, there was a clumsy system of mathematical notation, and there simply was not the level of precision to produce anything like scientific instruments. Added to which, the Greeks and the Romans are continuous in history, not separated. Classical period, Hellenistic period, Roman Republic, Roman empire.

  145. 145
    CaseyL says:

    The RW revisionism infuriates me, as someone who loves history.

    But allowing RW revisionism to become the established history curriculum in public schools has less to do with RW activism and more to do with a textbook business that puts too much emphasis on the “business” part and not enough on the “textbook” part.

    If the nation’s schools want to teach accurate history, as opposed to Soviet-style history, all they have to do is NOT use Texas-approved texts. Use actual history books by actual historians, rather than what are generally badly-written and incredibly boring textbooks anyway.

    My god, a history class that reads (say) Barbara Tuchman, or Paul Kennedy, or even Colleen McCollough would be a history class that students *enjoy*!

  146. 146
    TR says:

    Mogden that just means you were lucky enough to not have picked up Atlas Shrugged as an impressionable teen-ager. Those of us who did found it amazingly interesting and compelling until we figured out it was a simple mixture of clever story-telling plus soft porn rather than any coherent economic or philosophic argument.

    To quote the great John Rogers: “There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.”

  147. 147
    rpl says:

    You don’t convince teabaggers of anything by pointing out obvious facts. They aren’t interested in facts or truth. They have their beliefs. All that matters to these people is what they believe. If you challenge their faith based belief system with facts, they will just get angrier.

  148. 148
    John Ball says:

    Adding my two cents to the Roman/Greek tech matter–morzer has it exactly right. Sure, by all accounts some AMAZING technical wonders were created. And reading Epicurus, for example, is like watching a blind man knocking pitches out of the park, time after time after time. So some of the raw materials are there. But not enough of them. Some Greeks may have had the knowhow to make a coin-operated holy water dispenser–but it was essentially the lifework of one man, with little to no chance of duplication or mass production. And with no scientific experimentation even POSSIBLE to investigate them–and no one even considering do it in the first place– Epicurus’ brilliant ideas were nothing more than exercises in pure logic. The great Roman tech boom is a myth.

  149. 149

    It doesn’t piss me off. I think its silly enough to banter about. Slave economics work in limited situations and especially if there are mechanical or “market” alternatives. Imperial empires tend to slow developement thanks to their dependence on status quo for legitimacy and they also tend to hold the seeds of their own destruction. You could lay the failure of the Roman Empire at Tiberius’ feet in a way. Or you can throw a lot of the Dark Ages at the destruction of Carthage.

    You’re right in the sense that technological advance requires two things, scientific curiousity and desire to implement science – have that convenience available. Acqueducts and plumbing are convenience as well as need driven – too many people in one place for the water supply also led to actual plumbing. Slaves are an expensive proposition, especially when another means will suffice, but part of maintaining an Empire is having a reason to do so – capturing slaves as a part.

    The point I’m trying to make is that history is about decision making and outside forces. Caesar had HIS reasons as did the run of the Republic aid him in that. Cotton and US slavery are inextricably entwined but to link slavery to English society is a stretch. Serfdom or indenture, sure, so decisions were made based to a great extent on crop and climate. The low utilization of slavery in N Europe can be partially laid on the fact that it is cheaper to put people on their own than own them in harsher climates.

    Something like slavery exists for multiple reasons including the desires of leadership which may well fly in the face of convenience/reasonable forces. If it takes a real outlay of effort to get a slave it is more efficient to just go get your own glass of wine. It becomes reasonable to have a slave when the outlay is made by someone else. That is a function of leadership – ie the Legions go get them or sufficient resources are extracted to create a class that has no connection to the outlay of resources to support it.

    My point isn’t that some “Great Man” instituted a slave culture in, say, Rome – but that the forces existed and were short circuited for reasons outside the forces – ie leadership or man driven. If you can build a steam turbine and not too long after the metalurgy exists to make it usable there are other reasons it doesn’t go forward since it makes no economic sense to use manpower to that end.

  150. 150
    Pasquinade says:

    Some Twitter people have accused @dem_apples of being Glenn Beck. They may be right:

    they called FDR the Anti-Christ, he was overthrown, time to toss out the new one now. glenn beck fox news rush limbaugh sarah palin teaparty

    http://twitter.com/dem_apples

    FDR overthrown? By whom? God?

  151. 151

    Brick @ 58: There was much talk at the time about the Jim Jones operation as being a psyop run by the CIA. I lived in SF back then, out on the avenues, and used to get flyers for his church stuck in my mailbox all the time. Considering that they happened within a week of each other, there has always been suspicions that the murders of Moscone and Milk had something to do with all that. His former church on Geary is now a post office facility.

    Interesting tidbit: When young Jimmy was torturing frogs one of his childhood buddies was Dan Mitrione. Small world.

  152. 152

    The great Roman tech boom is a myth.

    It certainly isn’t a myth but scientific curiousity didn’t exactly flourish under the Romans, either. The Romans did with tech what they wanted to do and that’s another thing altogether – as did the Greeks. What I’m disputing is that only vast changes are at work or that some Great Man is the point of history.

    The course of the world was changed by Alexander of Macedonia in really really large ways. Much of the integration of cultures would have occured without him, but to assert in the same ways or in the same time periods is a real reach. You can’t lay Alexander on metalurgy, but you also wouldn’t have had his outcomes without it. Metalurgy and tactics were going to happen, but you can’t take Alexander out of it and get the same thing.

  153. 153

    What Mozer has is that it didn’t happen, the tools were there. The thought processes and the materials were there. The will is another story.

  154. 154
    Taylor says:

    What is missing is that between the Greeks and Romans technology was on the verge of skyrocketing,….Something else to lay at Popes’ feet… ;-)

    As already noted, the institution of slavery had a lot to do with the lack of industrial innovation in ancient Rome, even though the Romans were fabulous engineers….As far as the Pope-bashing, the seeds of the modern scientific method were laid by the Franciscan monks Robert Grosspointe and Francis Bacon.

    As far as FDR’s role, let’s get one thing clear: Hoover was a smart man, but trapped by the prevailing conventional wisdom of the time. Had his successor been similarly trapped, there is a good possibility that the US would have descended into the kind of fascist state that emerged in Italy and Germany. To get a taste of some of the possibilities that people around that time recognized (though some of it could only be portrayed once the Depression was over), take a gander at movies like Gabriel Over The White House and Meet John Doe.

    “Great (Wo)Men” usually achieve greatness by recognizing historic opportunities and seizing them. George W Bush’s failure to recognize the opportunity to rewrite the geopolitical map in the wake of 9/11 is an example. We will have to see how history rates Obama, though in my own opinion he has also failed, largely through a failure of nerve to capitalize on a historic opportunity.

  155. 155
    morzer says:

    It’s impossible to say there was a tech boom under the Romans. They were effective practical engineers, with the necessary skills that went with that – land surveying and so forth. That said, you simply don’t find a series of radical innovations going beyond those skills. Medicine remains as much a philosophical and magical construct as it does a science, mathematics doesn’t radically develop after the Hellenistic world, although you get some fine individual mathematicians. Similarly, there is no concept of gravity, and not much real physics, while chemistry is largely limited to some party tricks and a little bit of military use. The fact is that there wasn’t a tech boom, and there wasn’t the basis for one. If you look at more humble fields, they had an inefficient plough, and no stirrups. The only real piece of new and widely available technology was the codex, rather than the scroll, but even then, given that books still had to be hand-copied, it had less impact than one might expect.

  156. 156

    Funny, technology is now different than engineering? How so? My educational background is largely applied science – ie mech engineering. Oddly enough I find concrete, aqueducts, arches, plumbing, catapults, etc tech; just as I see a steam turbine toy as tech. I do not confuse science with engineering at all. I also don’t mistake an Ipad for science, it is engineering.

  157. 157
    morzer says:

    Chuck Butcher, what you don’t seem to understand is that there is no evidence for a tech boom. Please stop trying to evade the facts: the precursors for a tech boom were not present. There was no tech boom. As for the items you list – you’ll find catapults and torsion-powered siege weapons discussed by Greek tacticians, arches and plumbing were known in Hellenistic cities, and the Greeks used aqueducts before the Romans. This leaves you with concrete and one item is hardly a tech boom.

  158. 158

    Morzer, you assert that because something didn’t happen that it couldn’t. I’m aware of the missing pieces, that they are missing isn’t because they had to be. The tools were there. I’m not exactly unaware of zeros, gravity, printing presses, and etc. I’m not proposing some organized conspiracy to defeat science, I said the tools were there.

    Obviously the pieces came together as they did, not just because of a great man or techtonic forces, but because of the combinations of them.

  159. 159
    morzer says:

    Chuck, you haven’t shown that the tools were there. The point is that you can assert the contrary until you are blue in the face – but you aren’t providing any evidence. So far you’ve given us a Roman tech boom consisting of one item. One item! No one suggests an organized conspiracy against science. What we are saying is that the pre-conditions for your mythical tech boom weren’t there, and that there was no tech boom. If you want to argue the opposite, give us some hard facts, some historical data, some artefacts, rather than trying to quibble about words or create conspiracy theories.

  160. 160

    This is kind of like the dispute in archeology between the Cataclysmatists and Evolutionists – it appears both were right. Hmmm. And, oh yeah, it was very nearly religious ideology in aspect.

  161. 161
    Taylor says:

    I’m aware of the missing pieces, that they are missing isn’t because they had to be.

    Thought experiment: why didn’t the industrial revolution happen during the Renaissance?

    The industrial revolution had to be delayed until Newton’s discovery of calculus. First and second derivatives are useful when you’re reasoning about velocity and acceleration.

  162. 162
    morzer says:

    No, Chuck, this is a dispute between someone who cites facts and actually studies the period in question, and a person who throws out general assertions, doesn’t have any evidence, and gets pissy when debunked. Produce the evidence, or stop trying to make claims that don’t stand up to analysis.

  163. 163

    […] Teabagger Revisionism [Via Balloon Juice] […]

  164. 164

    The tools to progress were there and it stopped with toys for a lot of reasons. The inquiry stopped there. I understand that the Romans appear to have been pretty incurious and I’m not proposing that they had the ability to build the 19th Century. The Greeks and to an extent the earlier Romans got to the edge of really learning and stopped.

    I must have expressed myself poorly –

  165. 165

    I did express myself poorly.

  166. 166

    I’m really not trying to write a thesis here, human curiousity and advancement seems to go through periods of plus and minus. Empires crash, plagues happen, all kinds of things happen including leadership. Newton built on a lot of other people who built on others and… I understand that.

    The building stopped. The Roman Empire had little use for it if it didn’t beat people or add to their immediate ends and the Greeks demonstrated little in the way of “rewards” for those who engaged in it. Making temple toys was more rewarding than pursuing the undlying concepts and so toys. Science didn’t just happen because there was some critical mass of knowledge, that critical mass of knowledge happened because there was reason to pursue science. Leadership – and by extension society at large – provided rewards and incentive and time to pursue it.

    The dispute I referred to was the “great man/slow evolution” history. That was extremely opaque of me.

  167. 167
    ThinkBlue says:

    It’s pretty simple. Most people adjust their opinions to conform to reality. These teabaggers and neo-cons adjust reality to conform with their opinions.

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