Friday, December 30, 2011

How Dare They?

The Canadian Manifesto: How the American Neoconservatives Stole My Country

There has been a renewed interest in the famous Dreyfus Affair, that sent an innocent French military officer, of Jewish descent, to prison for treason in 1894.

Given today's media hyped "culture wars", this affair divided France, in the same way that we are increasingly being divided; with lines drawn between conservatism and liberalism; right and left.

Louis Begley's 2009: Why the Dreyfus Affair Matters, reminds us of the anti-Semitism behind the affair, and he's absolutely right.  But he parallels the injustice with the Bush era and the practices of torture at Guantánamo Bay.

Dreyfus was indeed tortured by the inhumane conditions while imprisoned on Devil's Island, but the comparison ends there.

Frederick Brown's 2011:  For the Soul of France: Culture Wars in the Age of Dreyfus, traces the affair to France's humiliating defeat in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870–71, that split the country into "cultural factions that ranged from those who embraced modernity to those who championed the restoration of throne and altar."

The Eiffel Tower, built in 1889, stood taller than cathedrals, a visible reminder of the diminished stature of the Catholic Church.  More importantly was the financial threat imposed by the collapse of the Catholic investment bank, Union Generale, in 1882.  It  was blamed on the Rothschild banking firm, that had financed the reparations to Germany after the war, and was emerging as the dominant financial institute of the day.  Anti-Semitism heightened as economic woes continued, and a portion of the French public was quick to see the guilty hand of Jewish financiers at every turn.

Oxford University historian, Ruth Harris, in her new book: Dreyfus: Politics, Emotion, and the Scandal of the Century, suggests that the affair that divided France was more complex and drawing on original letters, she showed that Dreyfus supporters were often critical of their "left-leaning" friends for not backing their fight, as the sentiment against the Jewish officer crossed many faiths and political beliefs.

That anti-Semitism was at the root of the Dreyfus Affair, is undebatable, however, I think there was also something else at play.  What I call the "how dare they?" factor.

While prejudice itself is the product of ignorance and fear, at the very heart of prejudice is a notion of superiority and power based on that superiority.  Whether race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, age, or social class, are at the core; power goes to the predominant societal group.  And to hold on to that power they must constantly prove that they are supreme, and therefore deserving.

The hierarchy of the French military at the time was predominantly Catholic and somewhat aristocratic, based on wealth and birth.  Alfred Dreyfus broke that mold.  The son of a peddler who had made a fortune in textile manufacturing, he was an "aristocrat" through education, paid for with "new money".   And he was Jewish.

When it was discovered that there was a spy in their midst, who was selling secrets to Germany, they automatically looked to Dreyfus, who not only spoke with a slight German accent, but fit an ill-conceived profile.  And there was a score to settle.   A superior officer, Colonel Pierre-Elie Fabre, while recognizing Dreyfus's intelligence and talent,  condemned his "pretentiousness, unsatisfactory attitude, and faults of character." (1)

As the only Jewish officer trainee on the French General Staff, he should have been more appreciative.  "How dare he" assume that he was entitled to this honour?  A spy scandal, presented an opportunity to put him in his place.

It was later discovered that the cash strapped Major Ferdinand Walsin Esterhazy was the real spy and the fact that Esterhazy was never convicted, resulted in charges of a cover-up.  But it was too late.  Dreyfus was already guilty in the court of public opinion.

AFTERMATH - In the hyper charged anti-Semitic climate, many wanted it to be Dreyfus.  As a result, capitalizing on the emotions of prejudice, several right-wing groups found prominence, including the Action Française (French Action) counter-revolutionary movement, that fought for a return to the monarchist system, and a reversal of the achievements of the French Revolution,  that gave Jews and other minority groups equal rights.  They remained active until WWII, working as "Nazi collaborators", responsible for the arrest of Dreyfus's Jewish granddaughter, Madeleine Levy, by the Gestapo. Madame Levy was sent to Auschwitz, where she died in January of 1944.

The affair also saw the emergence of the "intellectuals" - academics and others who took positions on grounds of higher principle. (2)

A more profound result however,  came from an  Hungarian-Jewish journalist Theodor Herzl, who had been assigned to report on the trial.  Though opposed to organized religion, Herzl was responsible for the birth of the Zionist movement and the creation of the state of Israel.

The Knights of Mary Phagan

Fourteen-year-old Mary Phagan had been working since she was ten.  Her last job was at the National Pencil Company in Atlanta Georgia, where she worked 55 hours per week for a wage of $ 4.05; about a third of the national average.

On April 21, 1913, she was laid off, and on April 26, returned to the factory for her final pay, amounting to $ 1.20.

She was seen going in but not coming out. 

At about 3:17 a.m. the following day, her body was discovered by the night watchman, who called the police.

Unceremoniously dumped in the basement, battered and bruised, with wrapping cord around her neck, and her dressed hiked up; the police believed that she had been raped and then strangled so that she couldn't name her attacker.

After speaking with co-workers, they began to build a case against the company's superintendent,  Leo Max Frank.  Some of the girls had suggested that Frank was a bit of a flirt.

Though there was no physical evidence implicating him, the media spun the story to suggest that it was open and shut.  They even allowed the testimony of a black man, Jim Conley, to be entered against a white man,  a unique event in this region at the time.  But then that white man was a Jew.

Jim Conley was in all likelihood Mary's killer.  He was drinking heavily that day and was looking for cash.  Mary's purse with her wage packet was never found, and in later years, descendants of Conley claimed that he was indeed responsible.

So why was Frank convicted instead?  I believe that it was another case of "how dare they?"

Atlanta had the largest Jewish community in the South, many prominent business owners.  Frank himself was originally from New York, a graduate of Cornell, and president of the Atlanta chapter of the B'nai B'rith.

By contrast, many of the white Protestant citizens in the region were poor, uneducated farmers, who had left near destitute conditions in the Georgia countryside to find work in the city, and for many that work meant toiling for Jewish bosses.  The resentment was there, if not always visible.

Now they were being given an opportunity to put one of them in their place.  Jim Conley was a poor drunk who posed no threat to their standing as descendants of the "conquering race", while Frank was a symbol of the "foreign" exploiter making money from the labour of their children. 

Originally given the death sentence, the judge, who had doubts that Frank committed the crime, commuted  his sentence to life in prison.  Publisher Tom Watson, fanned the flames of anger, calling on the citizens of Georgia to take justice into their own hands and inflict the death penalty on this "Yankee Devil."  A virulent racist, he hurled anti-Jewish epithets at Frank, while making wild, unsubstantiated charges.

What happened next, was predictable.  On August 17, 1915, a caravan of eight vehicles with 25 armed men, arrived at the Georgia State Prison where Frank was being held. Calling themselves the Knights of Mary Phagan, they cut the telephone lines, surprised the guards and kidnapped Leo Frank.

At Frey's Grove near Mary Phagan's girlhood home, they hung him. Photographs were taken but newspapers refused to publish them since they implicated many prominent citizens. Frank's body was put on public display and postcards made of the lynching sold by the thousands. "Justice" was served.  The white Christian was still boss.

AFTERMATH - Tom Watson, the publisher who had helped to incite the perpetrators, began calling for the reorganization of the Ku Klux Klan.  So on November 25, 1915, the Knights of Mary Phagan met atop Stone Mountain, burned a cross, and initiated the new invisible order of the Ku Klux Klan.  Soon after, the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith was founded in New York; its creation based largely on the Leo Frank case. (3)

And in 1920, Tom Watson was elected to the U.S. Senate.

Black Wall Street Goes up in Flames

During the oil boom of the 1910s, the area of northeast Oklahoma around Tulsa flourished, including Greenwood, an all black neighborhood.  Because of segregation laws, despite being affluent, residents of Greenwood were forbidden to shop in white business sections, so instead created their own commercial district, that was so successful, it became known as Black Wall Street.

By 1921, Greenwood boasted 21 churches, 21 restaurants, 30 grocery stores, a hotel, 2 movie theaters, a hospital, a bank, a post office, libraries, schools, law offices, a half dozen private planes and even a well organized bus system.  In all 600 businesses thrived.

However, what was also thriving at the time, was the Ku Klux Klan, whose recruiting came easy with the affront of  the people of Greenwood believing that they could be successful on their own, without the help of white masters.  "How dare they?"

Things came to a boil on May 30, 1921, when a black man named Dick Rowland, stepped into an elevator operated by Sarah Page, a white woman. Rowland worked in a shoeshine store across from the building, and had been given permission to use their washroom.

The story goes that he stepped on Page's foot, throwing her off balance. When he reached out to keep her from falling, she screamed, and nervous, Rowland ran from the building.  The media sensationalized the story, by turning it into a full blown sexual assault, and like the Leo Frank case, began calling for "lynch justice".

The next day, Rowland was arrested and held in the courthouse lockup.   Outside the courthouse, 75 armed black men mustered, offering their services to protect Rowland, but the Sheriff refused the offer.  When a white man tried to disarm one of the black men, the gun discharged, sparking one of the worst riots in American history. (4)

Led by the Klan, the community of Greenwood was destroyed, most businesses burned to the ground.  As many as 176 people were killed, mostly black, including Dr. A. C. Jackson, who had received praise from the Mayo clinic for his medical skills.

Hundreds of  photographs were taken and again sold as postcards, including the one above:  'Runing (sic) the Negro out of Tulsa', though this was not so much about the negro, but the successful negro.  Had this been simply anger over a black man assaulting a white woman, they would have lynched Rowland, but there was a bigger score to settle. 

Louis Begley compares the Dreyfus Affair to the Bush Administration and the removal of civil liberties at Guantánamo Bay.  However, if we wanted to give any of the above stories a modern context, it would be when Rush Limbaugh referred to Michelle Obama as "uppity".

According to the Urban Dictionary,  the term is used to denote someone "Taking liberties or assuming airs beyond one's place in a social hierarchy. Assuming equality with someone higher up the social ladder."

How dare she assume that she can share status with the other 43 First Ladies, who were white?

Alfred Dreyfus, Leo Frank and the citizens of Greenwood were also "uppity", and paid heavily for the crime, not of believing that they were better than everyone else, but only equal to other military officers, plant bosses or business people.

How dare they?

In his 2008, White Protestant Nation, Allan Lichtman traces the Conservative movement to this time in history, when the "national identity" was being threatened.  Hannah Arendt referred to it as the "conscientiousness of common origin".

The right-wing mobilized and went from an assortment of fringe groups to what Lichtman called "the most powerful network of media, fundraising and intellectual organizations [think-tanks] in the history of representative government."  He also reminds us that the conservative ideology is not as many believe, lower taxes, limited government and the free market, but rather a "vision of America as a white Protestant nation".

Canada's conservative movement now represented by the Conservative Party of Canada, shares that vision.  From Sun TV's "white people", "Christian nation" rhetoric, to the new direction taken by immigration head Jason Kenney, and the renewed prominence of the Monarchist League

We are taking a huge leap backward.


1. "Why The Dreyfus Affair Matters", by Louis Begley, The Denver Post, November 8, 2009

2. Dreyfus Affair, Wikipedia

3. Website Names Alleged Lynchers of Leo Frank, Cobb Online

4. The Tulsa Race Riot of 1921, Montgomery College

5. Of Passionate Intensity: Right-Wing Populism and the Reform Party of Canada, By Trevor Harrison Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1995. ISBN: 0-8020-7204-6, pp 170-171

Thursday, December 15, 2011

In Which a Gaggle of Bankers and Oil Execs Try to Put Children in Their Place

In 1922, a political group was formed called the Sentinels of the Republic, whose aim was to stop federal encroachment on big business.  Of course that's not really how they sold it, but instead vowed to "stop the growth of socialism" and "prevent the concentration of power in Washington through the multiplication of administrative bureaus under a perverted interpretation of the general welfare clause". 

Quite a mouthful.

The Sentinels was actually a right-wing front group for the corporate sector, formed to handle the PR against any government legislation that might impede their ability to become filthy rich.  Or should I say filthier?

One of their first campaigns was to oppose Child Labour Laws, framing it as concern for poor families whose children must work to keep them fed, and stating among other things that they "would prevent children from doing chores at home", and was "socialistic, communistic and Bolshevistic."  A "Commie plot"

Those advocating for children knew what they were up against.  According to Time Magazine in January of 1925:
Mrs. Carrie Chapman Catt, Honorary Chairman of the League of Women Voters, told her pro-Amendment following: "The amendment is as good as dead and buried and the obsequies performed, unless something is done about it and done quickly." Experienced observers were inclined to confirm her prediction. The opponents of the Amendment have succeeded to a marked degree in generating a real fear of its consequences. Fear is a tremendously important political asset ... In pushing the idea of the evil consequences of the Child Labor Amendment to the fore, its opponents have placed its proponents entirely on the defensive. (1) 
A classic strategy of the Right.  The Sentinels were part of the noise and their efforts resulted in squashing the Amendment, meaning that companies could continue to exploit children. 

One of the financiers of the Sentinels of the Republic, was J. Howard Pew, the man who helped Ernest Manning with the conservative takeover of the Social Credit Party in Alberta, and who had become a close personal friend of the Premier's.  Pew is also the man, through his Sun Oil (Suncor), to give Canada the tarsands.  A gift that keeps on giving.

The Sentinels would continue to challenge everything from the New Deal to the creation of the Department of Education, until it was determined that they also had a dark side.

According to Our Magazine "The Sentinels of the Republic were a fascist front group funded largely by the du Ponts, the Pitcairn family and J. Howard Pew."  Gerald Colby says in his book: Du Pont Dynasty: Behind the Nylon Curtain (Lyle Stewart, 1984) that:

... the Sentinels of the Republic [were] an anti-Semitic organization which constantly warned the country of "the Jewish-Communist" menace. In 1936 the Senate Lobbying Committee  released Sentinels' files revealing fascist sympathies. "The Jewish threat is a real one…. I believe our real opportunity lies in accomplishing the defeat of Roosevelt." wrote its president, Boston banker Alexander Lincoln to Cleveland Runyon, who replied that the people were crying for leadership: "The Sentinels should really lead on the outstanding issue. The old line Americans of $1,000 a year want a Hitler."
Those Missing Links

Historian Peter Viereck, in a 1955 essay, attempted to piece together the elements of the radical right, and determined that the missing link was Father Charles Couglin, the controversial priest who was a supporter of Adolf Hitler and a sworn enemy of FDR and the New Deal. 

When on a tour of the United States in 1935, to help spread the gospel of Social Credit, Alberta premier William Aberhart, met with Coughlin, coming away with a favourable impression. "He has a keen intellect and is absolutely fearless. He has a correct appraisal of world conditions."  (2)

We have to remember that Social Credit was the only political party to be based almost entirely on the notion of a Jewish Conspiracy (3), and while Aberhart himself claimed not to be anti-Semitic, his sermons suggested otherwise.
"The JEWISH RACE must yet acknowledge that the CHRIST who was crucified to the CROSS of Calvary was the SON of GOD, their MESSIAH. Until they will acknowledge that they must expect the curses of the world and can not expect the Blessings of GOD." (4)
Personally, I have little doubt that in working through Jews, the Jewish financial group has sacrificed its own people on the altar of its greed for power and this group is preeminently responsible for the poisonous anti-Semitism which is rampant in the world today. (5)
Aberhart also published three articles written by Father Coughlin in his Social Credit Chronicle, a paper he created to counter what he deemed to be bias against him from the mainstream press.

However, while Viereck saw Coughlin as the missing link that tied the radical right together in the United States, it was actually John Howard Pew, who began the link that tied American Conservatism to the new Canadian Conservatism.

A close friend and confidant of Aberhart's successor, Ernest Manning, Pew had a huge influence on Manning's political theories, and according to the Anti-Defamation League, Pew himself was anti-Semitic, helping to finance not only the Sentinels of the Republic, but several other "conservative" and anti-Jewish causes. (6)  Many of these operated as part of the Christian anti-Communist Crusade.

However, Pew also strengthened the idea of a right-wing infrastructure.  A myriad of think tanks and advocacy groups whose purpose was to promote conservatism while tearing down liberal ideas.

He has been called a philanthropist; a heavy contributor to non-profit groups.  However, following is a list of some of the those groups who benefited from Pew's generosity. 

America First Committee - An isolationist group that lobbied the U.S. government to stay out of WWII, and leave Hitler alone to do his job, which was to destroy Communism.

National Association of Manufacturers: A fascist-linked network of industrialists who were at the heart of many anti-New Deal campaigns. (7)

Christian Freedom Foundation - Sought to "rally the support of Prostentant clergymen for rugged individualism" and for years was "supported almost entirely by J. Howard Pew of the Sun Oil Company and members of his family.  They have contributed well over a million dollars to its operation." (8)

The Foundation for Economic Education - Formed in 1946, it was described as an extremely conservative organization that issued a "huge volume of material aimed at overcoming state interventionism".  Pew was not only a major contributor but was also on their board of trustees.

Christian Economic Foundation - After failing to move the National Council of Churches to the far right, Pew helped create the CEF. In the 1960s, it sowed the seeds of the Christian Right by sending its free magazine, Christian Economics, to clergy across the U.S.

The John Birch Society - And Anti-communist organization still involved with the conservative movement today.

The National Review - Paper of William F. Buckley Jr.

American Opinion magazine - described by the ADL as a radical right, extreme conservative publication, it was the official magazine of the John Birch Society.

Young Americans For Freedom - Activist group that helped to create the Leadership Institute, on which Preston Manning's Democracy centre was fashioned.

Intercollegiate Society of Individualists - A Paleoconservative group that keeps book lists.  Those young conservatives should read and those they must avoid.

Though J. Howard Pew died in 1971, his Pew Foundation continues to support right-wing causes, including: 

American Enterprise Institute: A conservative think tank founded in 1943, that became a home to arch-conservatives like Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, David Frum, Dick Cheney, and more.  Both Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush plucked staff from the AEI

The Heritage Foundation: Created in 1973 by Joseph Coors, and headed by people like Paul Weyrich.

The British-American Project for the Successor Generation: Founded in 1985 by devotees of Reagan and Thatcher, it grooms right-wing U.S. and British youth as leaders.

The Manhattan Institute for Policy Research: Founded in 1978 by William Casey, who later became Reagan’s CIA director, it promotes privatization, deregulation and cuts to social welfare programs.

It has been said that the conservative movement is very linear, and visiting right-wing sites, many associated with the Tea Party, it's hard not to agree.  The goals are almost identical to those of similar groups established decades ago.  Several still exist and others have seen a revival.

The Sentinels of the Republic are back, and Republican Senator Jane Cunningham, wanted to roll back Missouri's child labour laws suggesting that they are infringing on parental rights.  She should meet Kelly Block.

We only began really paying attention to Canada's conservative movement, when Stephen Harper was named prime minister.  However, his victory was the culmination of sixty years of hard work.

American conservatism is not a good fit for the majority of Canadians.  In fact, it's not even a good fit for the majority of Americans, because it's based on fear, anger, deception and just plain nonsense.
There will always be dissident voices heard in the land, expressing opposition without alternatives, finding fault but never favor, perceiving gloom on every side and seeking influence without responsibility. Those voices are inevitable.  But today other voices are heard in the land—voices preaching doctrines wholly unrelated to reality, wholly unsuited ... We cannot expect that everyone, to use the phrase of a decade ago, will "talk sense to the American people." But we can hope that fewer people will listen to nonsense. —Excerpt from text of undelivered speech scheduled for presentation in Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963, by the late President John F. Kennedy.

1. Labor:  A 20th Amendment, Time magazine, January 25, 1925

2. Bible Bill: A Biography of William Aberhart, By: David R. Elliot and Iris Miller, Edmonton: Reidmore Books, 1987, p. 213

3. Social Discredit: Social Credit and the Jewish Response, Janine Stingel, Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2003, ISBN 0-7735-2010-4, p. 13

4. Stingel, 2003, p. 20

5. A Trust Betrayed: The Keegstra Affair, By: David Bercuson and Douglas Wertheimer, Doubleday Canada, 1985, ISBN: 0-385-25003-7, pp. 34-38

6. The Radical Right, Various Authors, Criterion Books, 1963

7. Pew - Facing the Corporate Roots of American Fascism, J. Howard Pew (1882-1971), By Richard Sanders, Our Magazine

8. Danger on the Right: The Attitudes, Personnel and Influence of the Radical Right and Extreme Conservatives, By Arnold Forster and Benjamin R. Epstein, Random House, 1964

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Problem With Conspiracy Theories

The Canadian Manifesto: How the American Neoconservatives Stole My Country

On February 15, 1933, Franklin Roosevelt was delivering a speech in Miami Florida. A lone gunman, described as "a deranged Italian immigrant", named Giuseppe Zingara, opened fire in his bid to make history.

"I have the gun in my hand. I kill kings and presidents first and next all capitalists."

Zingara was clearly gunning for the president, but being short, he was forced to stand on a chair, and would later say that a woman had knocked his arm, throwing off his aim. Instead of hitting FDR, one of the bullets felled Chicago mayor Anton Cermak, who died a month later. Zingara would spend just 10 days on Florida's Death Row, before being executed.

Even today, conspiracy theories abound, with the most popular being that the Masons were behind it (aren't they behind everything?) Original accounts suggested that Zingara was an unemployed brick layer, but were later corrected, because in fact he was just a Freemason.

Others have suggested that Cermack was the target all along and that this was a mob hit. But come on. If this was a mob hit they would not have sent someone like Giuseppe Zingara.

Coincidence or Conspiracy?

On March 30, 1981, John Warnock Hinkley shot a .22 caliber revolver six times at Ronald Reagan as he left the Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C.

Wounded were Reagan's press secretary James Brady, police officer Thomas Delahanty, and Secret Service agent Timothy McCarthy. Hinckley did not hit Reagan directly, but seriously wounded him when a bullet ricocheted off the side of the presidential limousine and hit him in the chest. Hinckley made no attempt to flee and was arrested at the scene. All of the shooting victims survived, though Brady was left paralyzed on the left side of his body.

This incident inspired the Brady Bill, signed into law by Bill Clinton on November 30, 1993, going into effect on February 28, 1994. The guts of the bill was that background checks would be required before the sale of a handgun.

However, another side to Hinkley's story, became fodder for a popular conspiracy theory.  Hinkley's dad was the owner of Vanderbilt Oil, and a staunch supporter of George Bush Sr..  Apparently he had donated to Bush's leadership bid and was disappointed when Reagan got the nod.

What made the story even more bizarre, was that Hinkley's brother Scott was supposed to be having dinner with Neil Bush, the son of then Vice-President George H. Bush, on the evening following the shooting.  Needless to say, it was cancelled.

And to add still more fuel to the fire of a "cover-up", the Hinkley family was under investigation for price gouging, that could have seen them being hit with a $2 million fine (1). Apparently, government auditors had met with Scott the very day that Reagan was shot by his brother, which prompted many to believe that John had been put up to the assassination, in an attempt to both remove a political rival, and to halt an investigation into the family's finances.

John Hinkley was mentally unbalanced, and by his own admission, hoped to kill Reagan to impress actress Jodie Foster, a woman he was obsessed with. It's possible that dinner table conversations of the family's dislike for Reagan and fear of the pending investigation, may have made him believe that this would also end his family's problems, but it's highly unlikely that he was coerced by anyone.

Not a Conspiracy Theory

The problem with conspiracy theories is that they can often distort historical facts, and that's what happened to a less known incident that took place in 1933-34. As bizarre as it sounds, a group of wealthy Americans, attempted to stage a military coup to remove FDR from the White House, and replace his administration with a fascist government, led by a military dictator.

Just typing that sounds crazy, however, the facts of the case are a matter of public record; the findings of the McCormack-Dickstein Commission.   The man who blew the whistle on the operation, was then the most decorated marine in the country, Major General Smedley Darlington Butler, who was to be FDR's replacement. (2)

Butler reported that on July 1, 1933, two American Legion officials visited him at his home, Bill Doyle, the commander of the Massachusetts branch, and Gerald C. MacGuire, former commander of the Connecticut department.  Both decorated veterans, they initially only wanted Butler to convince WWI vets, to force the president to maintain the gold standard. 

They knew that he was already involved with the Bonus Army, a populist group attempting to have their promised bonuses as veterans of WWI, paid early, and hoped to convince him that in a position of power, he could accomplish that mission.  They simply wanted an additional requirement, that the bonuses be paid in currency backed by gold.

Butler was told that they had a lot of financial backing and could make it worth his while.

Of course they weren't really there as advocates for vets, but as representatives of the banking industry. MacGuire was in the employ of Grayson Mallet-Prevost Murphy, a leading New York brokerage firm, and Doyle was with JPMorgan.  Wall Street not only opposed FDR's elimination of the gold standard but also his plans to nationalize the federal reserve. (3)

Testimony from the McCormack-Dickstein Commission revealed that the notion of a fascist takeover, was not a 'cocktail party conspiracy' as some suggested, but a very serious attempt by Wall Street, to take control of the country.

A JPMorgan partner, Thomas Lamont, had delivered a speech to the Foreign Policy Association, in which he praised Benito Mussolini, and suggested that Fascism, as an economic and political policy, worked.
“We count ourselves liberal, I suppose ...  Are we liberal enough to be willing for the Italian people to have the sort of government they apparently want?” asked Lamont.  Fascism, or some variant of it, he said, was not to be ruled out as policy for the United States. (2)
It was also revealed that Morgans had established a fund to market $24 million in securities for Mussolini.  However, while the Committee determined that Butler's accusations were correct, no one was charged.

It's hard to say how history would have unfolded, had the coup been successful.  I mean, after all, are Americans not now being governed by the corporate sector, especially the banking industry?  Are Canadians not?

Conspiracy theorists like to link Giuseppe Zingara's attempt to assassinate FDR, with the House of Morgan, and often include it when writing of this failed coup.  They also try to attribute the entire story to the House of Bush.

But if we just relate the facts, they speak for themselves.  Corporate America was drawn to Fascism at a time when many others felt that it was the best system to fight against a Communist threat.  This was before Mussolini's invasion of Ethiopia, and the Holocaust.

George W. Bush's grandfather, the late US senator Prescott Bush, did make his fortune financing the Nazis, no doubt with the same belief that Fascism was the answer.  Scott Hinkley did plan to dine with G.W.'s brother, and George H. Bush did attend a Carlyle Group meeting that included Bin Laden’s Brother, Shafig bin Laden, on the morning of September 11, 2001.

Those are the facts.  But none of that means that the Bush family supported the Holocaust, conspired to off Reagan or plotted the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre.

There is enough real evidence of wrong doing without going off into too many directions, making even known facts, appear to be nonsense.

Not Fascism But Corporatism

Everything about this conservative movement cries Fascism, but as soon as you suggest that they are Fascists, you are accused of hyperbole.  However, Mussolini himself referred to Fascism as "Corporatism", and that's a more comfortable term to use, if we want people to start paying attention.

Says Dr. Walker F. Todd:
The main unifying principle of classic corporatism was the idea that Marxist or Dickensian visions of class struggle could be avoided if, somehow, corporate owners and managers, agricultural interests, and urban laborers could be brought together cooperatively under the benign auspices of government. Mussolini's contribution to the evolution of the older corporatist model was to organize a political party devoted to that principle, but with a somewhat more forceful vision of the government's role. Mussolini believed that the otherwise intractable and irreconcilable conflict between management or capital and labor could be resolved, or at least controlled, if they could be brought together in a "corporation" under state control. Fascism was seen as a way of binding together the disparate elements of society and thus strengthening the whole, but it violated an ancient, Aristotelian precept of justice under the Rule of Law by tolerating an involuntary conscription or elimination of those inclined to dissent from this political economy model. (4)
Tougher laws, more focus on punishment, especially for dissidents; less or no debate on government decisions.  What former Chilean Dictator Augustus Pinochet, referred to as "Authoritarian Democracy".

Welcome to Canada

Paul Krugman in his book, The Conscience of a Liberal, suggests that the "new" Conservative movement, which is the antithesis of cultural conservatism, began in the 1940s.  However, others believe it began in the 1920s, which was the era of the "shirts".

Brown shirts, black shirts, green shirts, blue shirts; all wore the uniform of Fascist supporters.  In many ways the Alberta government of William Aberhart was a kind of benign Fascism (though it was based on the notion of a Jewish Conspiracy).  When Ernest Manning took over the party, he adopted the philosophies of the American Conservative Movement, with the help of his friend J. Howard Pew.

Fueled by anti-Communist/anti-Socialist sentiment and the belief in an Anglo Judeo-Christian hierarchy, under corporate rule; the ideology of the movement has only changed slightly, mainly in the people they hate.  It began with Jews, then blacks, and finally Muslims, but has always included feminists, humanists, liberals, "immigrants" and multiculturalism.  In Canada we are also now seeing an increase in native bashing, spurred on by Sun TV and their "white people" against "Indians" rants.

Historian Peter Viereck once said of the movement, "Ethnic intolerance only decreases as ideological intolerance increases."  The movement has seen its highs and lows, coming to within a hair of hitting bottom, but when they realized that anti-Semitism and segregation, etc. could result in their destruction, they stepped back, though grudgingly, then set out to find new prey.

They need what Todd referred to as the disparate elements of society; those who harbour the prejudices, in order to create the waves necessary for success.

Many in the media are now realizing that the Harper government has shifted policy to better reflect Western political views.  But this goes beyond the history of his Reform Party and simple "western alienation".  This thesis will show a direct and continual link between the American and Canadian "new" conservatives, and by using facts, not conspiracy theories.

We have a concise history of the CCF/NDP, Liberals, Bloc and Tories; but where did Harper's Conservatives come from?

I know and this is me sharing.

To be continued ...


1. Family 'Destroyed' By Assassination Attempt, By John Mossman, The Associated Press, April 1, 1981.

2. The Plot to Sieze the White House: The Shocking TRUE Story of the Conspiracy to Overthrow FDR, By Jules Archer, Syhorse Publishing, 1973, ISBN: 10-1-60239-036-3

3. Franklin Delano Roosevelt vs. the Banks:  Morgan's Fascist Plot, and How It Was Defeated Part II , by L. Wolfe, The American Almanac, Vol. 8, No. 25, July 4, 1994 

4. From Constitutional Republic to Corporate State: The Federal Reserve Board, 1931-1934, By Dr. Walker F. Todd

5.  The Radical Right: The Revolt Against the Elite, By Peter Viereck, 1955

Monday, November 14, 2011

Fusion or Confusion? Why I Think the Conservative Movement Will Self-Destruct

The Canadian Manifesto: How the American Neoconservatives Stole My Country

I read an interesting paper by Mytheos Holt, a neoconservative intellectual, I suppose you'd call him; that discusses the fusion of right-wing groups, that currently make up the nucleus of the conservative movement.

It was simpler in the beginning, because there were primarily just two: libertarianism and traditionalism.  However, in their quest for power, two additional cells were added to the mass: neoconservatism and paleoconservatism.
The Libertarian promotes individual freedom and the freedom to make money without government restrictions, like product safety standards or environmental regulations.  They believe that the market will dictate safety standards, because if their product kills people, no one will buy it.  I'd sooner know in advance if using that product could kill me, not wait for additional research or a new marketing strategy.
The Traditionalist wants a return to moral standards, which they see as only being possible in a Judeo-Christian society.  This should clash with Libertarianism, because it dictates how a person can live.  In many ways, organized religion is a form of collectivism, since members are expected to conform to a set of standards laid out by the hierarchy of the Church, which is like a regulatory board.  This political group is more often referred to as the Christian Right or Religious Right.
The Neoconservatives believe that they are the intelligentsia of the movement. They create the ambigous policy statements that are designed to mean different things to different people.  And despite the fact that movement conservatives claim to detest "elites", these people are elites.  Wealthy and well educated puppet masters.  As Paul Krugman says in his Conscience of a Liberal, becoming an intellectual in this movement is a good career choice.  You will never be unemployed, moving into government when conservatives are in power, and into right-wing think-tanks when they're not. Neoconservatives are followers of Leo Strauss.
The Paleoconservative is committed to creating a society with a White Anglo-Saxon Protestant hierarchy (WASPs).  Their views fit well with the Religious Right.  Frank Schaeffer, son of Francis A. Schaeffer, whose book A Cristian Manifesto is believed to be the blueprint for the Religious Right, confirms that the movement was always about race.
Paul Weyrich agreed, saying that it was not the abortion issue that mobilized them, but the end of segregation.  Weyrich was not only a founding member of the RR, but also a Paleoconservative.  He helped to create The Council for National Policy, which is a kind of vanguard group, for all four elements of American conservatism.  In Canada, the Civitas Society plays that role.
How Do You Sort it All Out?
With so many conflicting elements, how do you sort it all out?  It can't be easy.
To appease the Libertarians, Stephen Harper has placed Maxime Bernier, the former head of the libertarian Montreal Institute, into his cabinet, and allows the Fraser Institute to draft policy
To appease the Religious Right, he has moved their members into every nook and cranny of his government. In April, Le Devoir, published a piece on: Religious Fanatics in the Conservative Party (April 7, 2011).

They tell of a Liberal MP who was going into anaphylactic shock. Instead of providing medical assistance, three Conservative politicians, "Mark Warawa, Jeffrey Watson and Blaine Calkins, approached the sick woman, knelt down, placed their hands on her head and ... began incantations and prayers." Says Les Devoir:

This story is not widely known on the Hill, and for good reason. Those who witnessed the scene were shocked by this counter-productive religious reflex (the crowd was keeping the MP from breathing), but they are reluctant to condemn it for fear of being accused of intolerance.

They can get away with anything under the protection of religion. Others speak of members in almost constant prayer and some who even speak in tongues. (And you thought it was just Jason Kenney)

To appease the Neoconservatives is not that difficult. The Ezra Levants and David Frums get more media exposure than Paris Hilton.

And finally to appease the Paleoconservatives, he has taken Canada down perhaps the most dangerous path yet. He is allowing the Monarchist League to begin the transformation of our country, from one with a vast cultural heritage, to one whose history begins with Confederation. This not only ignores the contributions of those who were here centuries before the Anglo-Saxons, but also those who came after. We will be transformed from our wonderful cultural mosaic, to a work of still life.

Where is the Commonality?

Mytheos Holt discusses the clashing of views held by the four cells of the conservative movement.

Traditionalism has been taken over by religious conservatism, or what conservative writer Kathleen Parker refers to as the "evangelical, right-wing, oogedy-boogedy branch of the GOP."  ("Letting Go of God." Washington Post. November 19, 2008)

David Frum was fired from the American Enterprise Institute for criticizing the Republican's stance on Obama's healthcare plan.  Tom Flanagan was exiled from the Harper government for writing his book Harper's Team, even though he cut out almost half of it. (Harperland, Lawrence Martin, 2010) Gerry Nicholls, Harper's VP when he was president of the National Citizens Coalition, was fired when he publicly criticised our current prime minister.

Holt believes that there might be "too much individual freedom", that is creating a paranoia with the movement.
...because each of the four sectors of the movement views their compatriots as potential traitors, each of them believes it is absolutely essential that the problematic elements be tossed out before ideological war can be made on liberalism, since traitorous urges will inevitably manifest themselves on the battlefield. This paranoia induces a state of ideological paralysis, in which each of the different factions of conservatism find it impossible to build upon each others’ insights, for fear of accidentally accepting a liberal narrative. (The Unchanging Republic: Prospects for a New Conservative Fusion, by Mytheos Holt, 2010)
Their only commonality is a hatred for liberalism and it consumes them.  In his book Harperland, Lawrence Martin tells of speaking with a foreign leader, who claimed that while he openly criticizes his political opponents at home, he was quite taken aback by Stephen Harper, who he claimed actually "hates" his.  What he must think of us.

The very word 'liberal' ignites an hypnotic induction that no amount of clapping will wake them from.  But as Holt suggests, since the movement began, the character of liberalism has changed dramatically, yet the conservative arguments against it have not.  They have only turned their arguments against each other, in their quest to find the perfect conservative specimen.

So can a fusion held together with hate survive, or will it undergo a fission, breaking apart as each pursues its own agenda?

Maybe the real question is not will it, but when?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Politics of Contempt: The Nixon-Harper Ticket

************** Still to edit and merge ***********

The Canadian Manifesto: How the American Neoconservatives Stole My Country

In April of 2008, an article appeared in the UK Guardian entitled: The Canadian Nixon. Even then political observers noticed the similarity in styles between Stephen Harper and Richard Nixon. Both held a high level of contempt for their political opponents and in many ways, the people they were supposed to serve. They trusted no one.

Dimitry Anastakis and Jeet Heer noted their shared characteristics and modes of operation.
In the same week Kelly McParland wrote in the National Post of Harper's paranoia and what he described as a "siege mentality".
In 2008, 198 hours of recordings and 90,000 pages of documents were released by the Nixon Presidential Library, and what they revealed of the man, is quite telling. According to Dan Glaister: Recordings show Nixon urged staff to use all means to discredit his political opponents, both large and small.
This message could have come from Harper's own lips. But there's more.
Stephen Harper had all portraits of past prime ministers, many of them works of art, removed from the government block and replaced with photographs of himself. (4) Hundreds and hundreds of photographs of himself. I'll bet there's a memo somewhere stating that the "the project was completed."

And Luke Nichter, a Nixon scholar, says of the 37th president that his was: "One of the most secretive presidential administrations in American history." There's no denying that the Harper government is the most secretive we've ever had.

More recently Jeffrey Simpson is looking for parallels from Lawrence Martin's Harperland.

Simpson calls Nixon: "...the brilliant, brooding, socially awkward, intensely private, conspiratorial Mr. Nixon, who, more than any other U.S. politician, shaped conservatism from his entry into Congress to his resignation as president."
Some of the comparisons are abstract, like the episode of the threatening tapes. (6) But the key ones are fundamental. And perhaps there's a good reason for that. Wrapped up in their shared hatred of liberalism, academics and political opponents... And wrapped up in their shared awkwardness and paranoia, is the fact that they are both Republican*, schooled in Republican campaigning and indoctrinated in anti-government governance.

However, there is something else, that a lot of people are not aware of that helps to explain their "unique" political tactics. Both men were "Finkle Thinked".

Ouch! Did it Hurt?

Arthur Finklestein was** the man who worked behind the scenes for Richard Nixon and has been called one of the most secretive, but effective, political strategists who ever lived. His strategy was dubbed "Finkle Think". I've often thought that Guy Giorno tried to emulate him.

Jack Huberman includes Finklestein in his book: 101 People who are Really Screwing up America. And in a column for Huffington Post points out the hypocrisy of Finklestein's recent marriage to his male partner:
And according to Gerry Nicholls who was Stephen Harper's VP when he was running the National Citizens Coalition, Mr. Finklestein also worked for them.
So Stephen Harper is not that difficult to figure out. He is not that deep or complex. He is simply the product of Republican strategists, especially one who "invented the negative ad", and is following in the footsteps of a former Finklestein protege.

The new "Merchant of Venom".


*High profile Republican pollster John Maclaughlin takes credit for Stephen Harper's career, including it on his resume.

**Finklestein died on May 28, 2010

***When Guy Giorno had to appear before a commons committee, the media had to have him pointed out. No one knew then what he looked like. He was the same when he did the job for Mike Harris.


1. The Canadian Nixon: Stephen Harper's feud with Elections Canada is just the latest front in his war against government institutions, By Dimitry Anastakis and Jeet Heer, The UK Guardian, April 24, 2008

2. Harper discovers it's easy to find enemies, if you look hard enough, By Kelly McParland, National Post, April 23, 2008

3. Recordings reveal Richard Nixon's paranoia: Recordings show Nixon urged staff to use all means to discredit his political opponents, both large and small, By Dan Glaister, UK Guardian, December 3, 2008

4. Harper gallery leaves MPs speechless: Citizens who really want a national portrait gallery in Ottawa can rest easy. The government already has one, By The Ottawa Citizen, January 29, 2008

5. Looking for Nixon-like tendencies in Harperland, By Jeffrey Simpson, Globe and Mail, October 8, 2010

6. PM threatens Ignatieff with old tapes`Every day that goes by he's more like Richard Nixon,' Liberal leader says after Harper, By Richard Brennan, Toronto Star, May 28, 2009

7. Arthur Finkelstein Is Screwing Up America, By Jack Huberman, Huffington Post, June 11, 2006

8. Libertarianism and me, by Gerry Nicholls, November 13, 2009
Arthur [Finklestein] was an American political consultant who worked for the NCC, he gave us political, media and fundraising advice. He was, in fact, truth-be-told, one of the chief reasons behind the NCC’s success. He was also the top Republican political consultant, if not the top American political consultant period.

He was also the guy who basically invented the negative ad. His nickname was the “Merchant of Venom.” Now you might be asking yourself, “If Arthur was so great, why haven’t I ever heard of the guy?” Well, let me tell you a secret about political consultants. The ones who promote themselves a lot, the ones you see on TV talk shows and speaking at seminars are not usually the top consultants. That’s why they need to get the public limelight. That’s why they self-promote. The really top consultants don’t need to do that. The insiders know who they are and they are always busy. Arthur fit into that category. If anything he did everything possible to avoid media scrutiny. (8)

It wouldn't be worth mentioning if the consultant hadn't, through most of the 40 years of that domestic partnership, worked on behalf of some of America's most rabidly homophobic politicians; if he wasn't "the architect of Jesse Helms's political rise"; if he wasn't acclaimed as "the guy who slandered the term 'liberal' in American politics"; if he hadn't worked for presidents Nixon and Reagan; helped elect the likes of George W. Bush, New York Governor George Pataki, Senator Alphonse D'Amato, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin "To the Right of Attila Sharon" Netanyahu; advised Sharon; helped the Swift Boat Smearers for Bush smear John Kerry's military reputation; and announced that he would be spearheading the "Get Hillary" campaign to defeat Senator Clinton's reelection campaign in 2006.

All that, and more, is on Arthur Finkelstein's resume. If you haven't heard of him before, it's because he made sure you didn't. As CNN reported in 1996: "He is the stuff of Hollywood: A man who can topple even the most powerful foes, yet so secretive that few have ever seen him." Finkelstein has been compared to criminal mastermind Kaiser Sose in The Usual Suspects, who lay so low that some doubted he really existed. *** (7)

... the interesting comparisons arise between Mr. Harper and Mr. Nixon. By all accounts, and especially those in Harperland, the Prime Minister is not only a partisan, as all prime ministers must be, but he viscerally hates Liberals. His objective is not just to defeat but to obliterate the Liberal Party of Canada. For that purpose, the gloves are off all the time, from nasty attack ads against Liberal leaders to ritualistic, partisan punches from him and his ministers.

Mr. Nixon saw enemies everywhere: in the media, the “liberal elites,” the Ivy League colleges .... He carried enormous resentments, remembered many past slights, and bottled them up inside where they fed paranoid streaks in his character. He was a control freak, and demanded that his staff act accordingly. (5)

Documents released alongside the recordings detail the progress made by his staff in carrying out a presidential order to remove all pictures of past presidents from the White House. An office belonging to a junior civil servant in which he had seen two photographs of Kennedy, one bearing a personal inscription, particularly offended Nixon. "On January 14," wrote White House staffer Alexander Butterfield in a 1970 memo, "the project was completed and all 35 offices displayed only your photograph." (3)

"Never forget," he tells national security advisers Henry Kissinger .. and Alexander Haig in a conversation on December 14 1972, "the press is the enemy, the press is the enemy. The establishment is the enemy, the professors are the enemy, the professors are the enemy. Write that on a blackboard 100 times." (3)

One of the many online encyclopedias defines “siege mentality” as “a shared feeling of helplessness, victimization and defensiveness” which “refers to persecution feelings by anyone in the minority, or of a group that views itself as a threatened minority.” If there’s anything that typifies the Conservatives under Mr. Harper, it’s the notion that anyone outside the party is to be viewed with suspicion, and even within the party trust is to be handed out sparingly. Beyond the fortified redoubt of the Prime Minister’s inner circle, everyone is on permanent probation. (2)

The historian Garry Wills once observed that Richard Nixon wanted to be president not to govern the nation but to undermine the government. The Nixon presidency was one long counterinsurgency campaign against key American institutions like the courts, the FBI, the state department and the CIA. Harper has the same basic approach to politics: attack not just political foes but the very institutions that make governing possible. The state for Nixon and Harper exists not as an instrument of policy making but as an alien force to be subdued.

If it's not the media, or the courts, or the Senate, or Elections Canada, it's the Wheat Board, the federal government's own spending power, the bureaucracy, the gun registry ... Canadians should rightly wonder why their head of government has such a problem with so many Canadian institutions. (1)

New Canadian Epidemic. We've All Been "Finkel Thinked"

************* Still to edit and merge **************

The Canadian Manifesto: How the American Neoconservatives Stole my Country

After Watergate brought down Richard Nixon, the U.S. passed the Federal Election Campaign Act in an attempt to make election campaigns more open and transparent. One of the key features of the act, was that it placed legal limits on campaign contributions.

This prompted high profile Republican strategist, Arthur Finkelstein, who had worked on Nixon's campaign, to come up with something called Independent Expenditure Campaigns (in Canada this is known as Third Party Advertising). This allowed the wealthy to funnel their contributions through a political activist group, who could run attacks ads freely, usually zeroing in on a policy the Republicans opposed and their opponents favoured, or had already adopted.

Finkelstein would also work for Ronald Reagan, before joining Canada's National Citizens Coalition. According to Gerry Nicholls, who was Stephen Harper's VP when he was running the NCC:
Arthur [Finkelstein] was an American political consultant who worked for the NCC, he gave us political, media and fundraising advice. He was, in fact, truth-be-told, one of the chief reasons behind the NCC’s success. He was also the top Republican political consultant, if not the top American political consultant period. He was also the guy who basically invented the negative ad. His nickname was the “Merchant of Venom.” (1)
And this "Merchant of Venom" taught Stephen Harper well.

Finkelstein's strength was in finding a weak spot, as flimsy as it might be, and then creating an entire campaign around it. Harper found Dion's in his difficulty with the English language, to create the image of a bumbling fool with the simple "Not a Leader" attack.

With Michael Ignatieff it was more difficult, but he found a "weak spot" in his five years spent teaching at Harvard. He couldn't use his teaching positions at Oxford, Cambridge or the London School of Economics, because they were British. So those five years spent in Boston became the focal point of the "Just Visiting" ads. And the fact that while teaching in Boston, Ignatieff chose "we" to connect with his students, that "we" became the most powerful two letter word in the English language.

Another strategy of Finkelstein's was to give negative connotations to certain things through repetition and association. "Tax and spend liberals", "reckless coalition", that kind of thing.

This strategy became known as "Finkel Think". But too much Finkelthinking can be a bad thing. In the U.S. several of his campaigns backfired because he used terms so much, that the negative response was aimed at the ads, and the Democrat won.

Harper's overuse of "reckless coalition" appears to have also backfired, especially after it was made public that he himself had tried to become prime minister in 2004, in a coalition that included the full support of the Bloc.

In fact, a recent poll suggests that the majority of Canadians would prefer a coalition to a Harper majority. This doesn't mean that Harper will change his strategy. He can't. His Finkelthinkitis is terminal.

Symptoms of the Disease

1. The first sign that a nation has been finklethinked is the odd behaviour of the media. They will begin to froth at the mouth while watching the latest attack ad. Then they wait for the polls to see if the ad is working. Now collectively, with arms extended like Zombies, they will head to their keyboards to create headline news. "Latest Harper Attack ad may cause Michael Ignatieff to plummet to his political death."

There is an easy cure at this stage, but it would involve their having to think and perhaps ponder what this is doing to our democracy. But thinking is elitist, meaning they could become the next victim of Fatal Finkeling.

2. The electorate begins to develop a rash. They can't sit still while watching the attack ads, so will fidget and hold their tummies, waiting for the nausea to consume them. In the most severe cases you may also see a gauging out of the eyes and the placing of sticks in ears, while the victim runs in circles singing "la, la, la, la, la, la ..."

An Old Wives Tale suggests that they lock themselves inside on election day, but research has shown this to be false. The best cure for Finkelthinkitis, is to show up at the polling station on election day to receive the antidote.

It's called a ballot. The only known cure.

So don't become a frothing, fuming, fumbling, fulminating, fickle faced foolish Finkelthinker. On May 2 vote and vote wisely.


1. Libertarianism and me, by Gerry Nicholls, November 13, 2009

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

From Joseph Mitchell to Rob Ford to Herman Cain. They Just Don't Get It.

The Canadian Manifesto: How the American Neoconservatives Stole My Country

In 1960, the city council of Newburgh, New York, looking to clean up the slums created by migrant workers, who made the area a permanent home, hired Joseph McDowell Mitchell as City Manager.  Mitchell had earned a reputation as a hard nose "fixer" and he immediately ordered a survey of their relief program.  Thirty borderline cases were cut off and the food relief allotment reduced, to help pay for snow removal.

Then concluding that the city was too generous to the terminally lazy, Mitchell drafted thirteen measures in an attempt to not only limit welfare expenditures, but also drive the mostly black unemployed out of town.

They included a three-month limitation on relief payments, except for the physically handicapped and the aged; unmarried mothers who bore any more illegitimate children would be cut off from assistance; whenever possible, food and rent vouchers would be issued instead of cash; able-bodied males on relief would have to work 40 hours each week for the city building-maintenance department and newcomers who settled in Newburgh without specific job offers would be limited to one week of relief payments. (1)
However, the State Board of Social Welfare, which reimbursed Newburgh for 33% of its relief costs, concluded that at least two provisions—the three-month cutoff, and the discrimination against unwed mothers—violated both state and federal standards.
When the national media picked up the story, alerted by Mitchell himself (2), there was overwhelming support for his program, and the more that the media denounced Mitchell, the stronger the support.  He made it OK to hate poor people.
Encouraged, Newburgh's rising star, began grandstanding, challenging the State's position and making life even more miserable for those barely living.  In one publicity stunt, he sent letters to all welfare recipients stating "Your welfare check is being held for you at the police department.  Please report to the police department and pick up your check there."  A reporter from the local newspaper described the scene:
At 2:15 P.M. yesterday there were approximately 60 persons standing in a Y-shaped line at police headquarters waiting for their [welfare] checks. They were interrogated in a small, drab back room which ordinarily serves as a communications center and fingerprinting room. Each applicant was asked to produce proper identification. They were questioned about their marital status, the number of their dependents, their address, and when they last worked. (2)
In other words, they were treated like common criminals.  The Republicans took notice, including Barry Goldwater, who sent Mitchell a personal note, applauding the Newburgh program "as refreshing as the clear air of Arizona ... I would like to see every city adopt the plan. I don't like to see my taxes paid for children born out of wedlock." (1)
Thirty years later conservatives were still extolling Mitchell, despite the fact that he would eventually lose his job, not for his Draconian welfare clean up, but for taking bribes.
According to Sam Roberts in a 1992 piece for the New York Times:
When Mr. Mitchell was driven into political oblivion from his job as City Manager of Newburgh, N.Y., leaders of the welfare-rights movement heaved a collective sigh of relief. Fully 30 years later, though, he haunts the national welfare debate that he briefly dominated ... What is so striking about the 13 welfare regulations he sought to impose three decades ago is not how Draconian they seem in retrospect, but how many of them have been adopted, proposed or rationally discussed in recent months by Republicans and even than a few Democrats.

Before Mr. Mitchell's regulations were voided by the State Supreme Court in 1962, they transformed Newburgh from an obscure Hudson River city of 31,000 into a national symbol of revolt against Federally mandated welfare programs, benefits that critics maintained redistributed wealth from productive taxpayers to an expanding and parasitic dependent class. (4)
What Mitchell's crusade accomplished  was the idea that "it is a suckers game to spend one's money on the weak element in society."
The evidence displayed during the Newburgh controversy that many good Americans who contribute regularly to their Community Chest, donate their clothing to flood victims, and sponsor Christmas parties for orphans scorn those on relief shocked many welfare officials secure in their semi- private world of forms and statistics. A large segment of the public despises, even hates the poor. (2)
And neoconservatives have been exploiting this hatred for decades.  Mike Harris built it into his platform in Ontario, secure in the belief that his overhaul of the welfare system could proceed with little public opposition.  In fact, like Mitchell, he had many fans, and the more the progressives complained, the stronger the support for the Harris government.

When FDR implemented the New Deal, critics claimed that people didn't want to work, and relief payments would only exacerbate unemployment.  He proved them wrong.  In Ontario, many people on welfare voted for Harris because they thought that his tough stand meant that he would find them the jobs they were unable to get on their own.  What they found instead, was that they were cut off if they were able to work, despite the fact that the unemployment rate hindered their ability to work, in the same way that a physical handicap might.

When Harris was asked about the rise in the use of foodbanks, he shrugged and said that it was a good organization, and that he and his wife had just dropped off a bag of groceries.

When his government released a monthly food plan for those whose benefits had been slashed, Harris justified it by saying that he knew what it was like to live on beans and tuna.  His embarrassed parents told the press that Mikey's silver spoon had never so much as touched a bean.

The cartoon at the top of the page is from a 1944 book by B.A. Trestail: Stand Up and Be Counted, written to discredit the CCF (now the NDP) and State Socialism.  It was hyperbolic, but written at the time when the conservative movement was getting started, and the doctrine of individual responsibility, was being chiseled into their stone tablet.

And yet it is not unlike ads being used by neoconservatives today.

Republican presidential hopeful, Herman Cain, when speaking of the Occupy Wall Street movement, suggests that if people would just work harder, they too could be among the top 1%.

If all it took was hard work; labourers, teachers, nurses, food service workers, construction workers, bricklayers, police officers, fire fighters, social workers, paramedics, bus drivers, truck drivers,  et al, would all be billionaires!

Rob Ford's father was in Mike Harris's caucus, and his son has developed a similar attitude, as mayor of Toronto.  Currently, he is threatening to gut union contracts, even training managers to operate heavy equipment.  Joseph Mitchell may have tested our commitment to social justice, but Ford's initiative could backfire, if it means that traffic in Toronto is brought to a standstill, or garbage lines the streets.  People like Don Cherry may say "I love what yous guys 'r doin'", but others may take a different view.

A report released in the United States, shows that 45 million U.S. citizens are now on food stamps and 1 in 15 Americans are living well below the poverty line.  And there is not only a growing gap between rich and poor, but also between young and old.  There is little out there for people graduating from college or university.

Does Cain really believe that they just need to work a little harder? And how will this impact future generations?  Socialism may not be the enemy of capitalism.  Capitalism will kill itself, if this is the best it can do for those living under it.

B.A. Trestail used cartoons to get his message across in several pamphlets and books, so maybe we need to develop neocon cartoons and joke books.  They provide so much good material.  Their bumper sticker slogans have not changed in more than half a century, so we just need to tweak a few classics.

Like the neoconservative who was undergoing surgery, and worried about the lasting affects of the anaesthetic.  He asked his doctor: "How long after I take this will I be able to think clearly and intelligently?", to which the doctor replied: "I think you are expecting too much of the anaesthetic."


1. New York: The Welfare City, Time Magazine, July 28, 1961

2. The Despised Poor: Newburgh's War on Welfare, By Joseph P. Ritz, Beacon Press, 1966

3. Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus, By Rick Perlstein, Nation Books, 2001, ISBN: 0-8090-2858-1, p. 131-133

4. METRO MATTERS; Spirit of Newburgh Past Haunts Political Present, By Sam Roberts, The New York Times, March 09, 1992