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FDR’s Wingnut Opposition

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As I’ve done nothing the past two weeks but look at logging union documents and documents associated with logging, I have had no choice but find diversions within the documents. And that leads me to C.C. Crow. An extremely conservative man, this is what this very prominent timber executive and publisher of Crow’s Pacific Coast Lumber Digest had to say after FDR died:

“The administration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt will go down in history as one of the darkest pages of human progress. His utter disregard for the truth and the unprincipled methods he employed in remaining in office saw him stoop to practices of arch hypocrisy, since exposed by his intimate associates, that passed far beyond honesty, even after making allowance for the latitude ordinarily granted in politics. He clasped to his bosom all the riff-raff of the nation and installed in important public offices both men and women whom he could not help but know were unalterably opposed to our form of government and were surreptitiously planted at vantage points to help bring about its ruination. While carping about race and creed inequality, as a theme song to bring the unthinking masses to his support, he and his wife actually did more to promote creed and race strife than was ever done before in the history of our country or will ever be in the future. The evils of this one specific heritage from Roosevelt’s administration alone will remain to curse and bedevil generations to come. The seeds of such philosophy were purposely planted in foreign lands where they will grow and some terrible day come back to menace our children and our children’s children. The Roosevelt administration is directly responsible for our government being hopelessly involved in a debt so great that if it is ever repaid, which is doubt, virtual enslavement to taxes sufficient to kill all initiative will be necessary for the next two hundred years.

At some prominent place in Washington, D.C., there should be erected a monument to the Roosevelt administration. It should be constructed of soured green hemlock because that emits an offensive odor. There could be one tall center pole topped with a likeness of the great white father surrounded by various members of brain-trusters, with an inscription at its base reading, “We will spend and spend and spend and tax and tax and tax.” At each corner there could be a space for the lesser lights, those who prostituted the advantage of marital or parental relationship. It could be continuously watered in a manner similar to the treatment accorded our gold standard, so that the decaying wood out of which it was built would never cease to smell like the record of those whose sorry doings it was designed to commemorate.”

C.C. Crow, “Suggestion for a Monument to the Roosevelt administration.” Crow’s Pacific Coast Lumber Digest, August 7, 1947

Now, Crow was a full nutter. He called Wayne Morse a communist. He thought Harry Bridges should be kicked out the country. He attacked the Marshall Plan from the right, talking about how worthless the French were and how the English had become lazy and socialist and saying they should get off their lazy rear ends and mine their own coal rather than rely on American coal. When Truman fired MacArthur, Crow said it was a victory for the Reds and the English. Crow wrote in glee when the Henry Kaiser company town of Vanport was washed away in a flood in 1948. A race-baiter, he was glad this cesspool of racial mixing was no more. Crow had a special hatred for Kaiser for reasons not entirely clear to me. I think Crow thought Kaiser took advantage of the New Deal to gain a monopoly that violated his fundamentalist ideas of free trade. He was a hard-core Republican but could live with the right kind of Democrat, specifically a segregationist like Harry Byrd.

So Crow was insane. But he was also by no means atypical of the venom spewing Republicans of the 1940s. We think of Obama facing some uniquely crazy Republican opposition but it’s not so original. This kind of hackery goes back a long ways. Of course, the Republican Party of the 1940s had more than just crazies, and that’s why Crow hated Morse so much. But add a little geographical realignment to the mix and it’s not hard to see how complete wingnuttery would come to take over the entire Republican Party.

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  • Manju

    After all this nonsense, I can’t believe the American Taliban is about to elect a Mormon who will be the most liberal Republican to lead a ticket since Nixon or Ford.

    To make matters worse, candidates more aligned with the RWing base are attacking him now from the Left: Vulture Capitalist…as if thats a bad thing.

    The Teaparty is over. Occupy Wall Street is the new crazy. The “tax Cuts pay for themselves” crew seems sane when compared to a group who apparently haven’t heard that socialism failed.

    • R Johnston

      [Romney] will be the most liberal Republican to lead a ticket since Nixon or Ford.

      I want a lot of whatever you’re smoking.

      There is a zero percent chance that a Romney administration would be anything other than the most conservative Republican administration in the memory of everyone reading this post. Romney, at the very least, will offer no pushback at all against republicans in Congress, and they’re at their craziest ever.

      • Incontinentia Buttocks

        Well…Romney certainly wouldn’t be Nixon or Ford, but there’s no reason to think he’d be more conservative than W. Despite all the tea nonsense, the same people are very much in charge of the GOP who were last decade. I don’t think there’s any reason to think a Romney presidency would be much different than our last Rpublican presidency.

        • Malaclypse

          Sure there is – the crazies knew that W was one of them, while Romney will need to prove it.

          • mds

            Also, the chance of an entirely GOP-controlled Congress is higher with a Romney victory, and the average congresssional Republican is even more of a deranged right-wing fuckwit than during W’s terms. Based on the need to prove himself that you highlight, Romney would be unlikely to veto really egregious legislation passed by his own party.

          • Good point. Mittens will have to go overboard. I wonder who the party will pick to run him from behind the scenes?

            • Malaclypse

              I wonder who the party will pick to run him from behind the scenes?

              You think Mittens will develop the backbone to say no to the crazies? That’s funny.

              If the wingnuts tell Mitt to invade Belgium, we’ll invade Belgium. If they tell Mitt to allow mercury in drinking water, we’ll all be dying younger.

              • Mal, I don’t see how you can make that assumption based on his actual performance in Massachusetts.

                I wonder whether, under a Republican President, enough Congressional Republicans would join a bipartisan coalition Romney puts together that’s big enough to govern.

                Let’s say the few Mitt Romney Republicans have to be in the coalition. If you’re Mitt Romney, would you add to that the teabaggers on their right, or 2/3-3/4 of the Democratic Caucus?

                What? Is he too ideologically rigid to do that?

                The Right 2/3 of the Democratic Party is a lot less crazy than the teabaggers. I think getting Democrats to join such a coalition and governing as a centrist, at least domestically, would be the most likely outcome of a Romney victory – especially after the first midterm elections.

                • Malaclypse

                  Mal, I don’t see how you can make that assumption based on his actual performance in Massachusetts.

                  I make that assumption based on how he has spent all his time since being governor saying what an awful state we were to govern. I make that assumption based on my complete and utter contempt for Mittens, who is a horrible, horrible person.

                  Keep in mind that, when you talk about his history in Massachusetts, I include his time as Stake President (roughly equivalent to a bishop). He was a nasty, lying, vindictive weasel then, and I see no reason to believe he has changed.

                  I wonder whether, under a Republican President, enough Congressional Republicans would join a bipartisan coalition Romney puts together that’s big enough to govern.

                  Why not just govern with his party? What actual incentive would he have to create a coalition that will fracture almost immediately, all while alienating the party base further?

                  Mitt remembers the fate of Bush the Less Dumb, and will never risk getting primaried from the right.

                • I make that assumption based on how he has spent all his time since being governor saying…

                  You’re basing your assumptions about how Mitt Romney would govern based on what he says? Based on what he says while trying to win political campaigns? I don’t think that’s a very good idea.

                  I make that assumption based on my complete and utter contempt for Mittens, who is a horrible, horrible person.

                  But there are many different ways to be a horrible person. Being completely unprincipled, having absolutely no loyalty for the one that brung ya, and being a complete hypocrite, for instance. I suggest that Mitt Romney is more similar to this type of horrible than person than like a Dick Cheney-type horrible person.

                  Why not just govern with his party?

                  Because his party can’t govern. They couldn’t if they tried, and they don’t want to try. Mitt himself, I think he wants to govern, and govern effectively, if only to add another trophy to his case. He’s also going to crave the approval of the Villagers.

                  Mitt remembers the fate of Bush the Less Dumb, and will never risk getting primaried from the right.

                  Bush won the nomination, and didn’t lose the general election for being insufficiently conservative.

                • Malaclypse

                  I think he wants to govern, and govern effectively, if only to add another trophy to his case.

                  I think Mittens wants the following, in order:

                  Get reelected, without facing a primary challenger.
                  Make Bush tax cuts permanent
                  Cut taxes further
                  Repeal Obamacare
                  Gut Medicare
                  Gut Social Security

                • Get reelected, without facing a primary challenger.

                  If elected, the greater threat by far to being reelected is to have a failed presidency, as opposed to having some wingnut certainly lose a primary challenge. Romney will want to govern, and be seen as a success at governing, mainly because of his desire to be reelected.

                • Malaclypse

                  Let’s hope we never find out which of us is wrong.

                • Hear hear!

        • Barry

          “…but there’s no reason to think he’d be more conservative than W. ”

          Actually, there are several:

          1) He’d be starting from the baseline established by W.
          2) He’d be working with a GOP Congress far more radical than W had.
          3) The MSM, even after the Great Financial Collapse, would happily blame everything on Obama for several years.
          4) The money boyz looted, trashed a got away with it. Given Romney + a GOP Congress, the price for trashing the world would consist of a few years of not much trouble at all. They’ll know that they actually do have a license to kill.

      • Uncle Kvetch

        I want a lot of whatever you’re smoking.

        I’d prefer you resisted the temptation, R. You tend to offer good comments here and I’d hate to see your output reduced to random, disconnected snippets of right-wing bile interspersed with the comic stylings of an even-snottier Dennis Miller.

        • R Johnston

          Dankeschön

    • Malaclypse

      I can’t believe the American Taliban is about to elect a Mormon who will be the most liberal Republican to lead a ticket since Nixon or Ford.

      So you’re saying Roemer will convert, and go on to win? Two bold predictions for the price of one!

    • Hogan

      Gingrich hasn’t heard that socialism failed?

      Don’t ever change, man.

    • Romney’s on record supporting the Ryan plan – that alone puts him further to the right than Reagan and either Bush.

      And OWS’ actual policy agenda, to the extent it exists, is pure reformism – restore Glass-Steagall is hardly seizing the means of production.

    • Njorl

      The “tax Cuts pay for themselves” crew seems sane when compared to a group who apparently haven’t heard that socialism failed.

      The supply side cult does not seem sane compared to anything.

      If slightly more progressive income taxation and reasonable banking regulations are socialism, then socialism is thriving.

      Have you considered living on Earth, Manju? I’m not encouraging it. I’m merely curious.

    • wengler

      Those socialists in Norway and Sweden have yet to hear that socialism has failed. Please inform them so they can get rid of their prosperous economies and generous social safety nets.

      • Manju

        Norway: Their model is not transferable.

        For it to work, you need a tiny population and a huge amount of oil, or some other valuable resource valuable enough that it could finance the retirement of the entire nation via a Sovereign Wealth Fund.

        Kuwait also has an extensive welfare state but no one thinks them a model.

        Sweden: They had market reforms in the 1990’s.

        Their past success is now, in retrospect, attributed largely to the fact that they were untouched by WWII. They are now a market based economy, in the same category as the US (according to Heritage’s economic freedom rankings), but further down the ladder.

        Heritage ranks Sweden 21 and the US 8 (2010). So yes, they are more socialistic. But they are also well within the free-market neo-liberal consensus. Unsurprisingly, going by GDP per capita (2010), the IMF ranks the US 7 and Sweden 15 for the same year. So the US is doing better and is less socialistic.

  • scott g

    Crazy bastards have indeed always been with us. Great find. I don’t know it’s so, but why wouldn’t Crow’s special hatred for Kaiser have sprung from his importation of thousands of black workers to Oregon?

    What’s remarkable is that, at the tail end of the story, the hard-right bastards of the timber industry are magically transformed into reasonable, if hard-nosed businessmen and salt-of-the-earth workers, apparently by the appearance of dirty, feckless hippies who dare to question their practices.

    • LeeEsq

      No, the transformation of hard-right businessmen of the timber industry into reasonable businessmen isn’t that hard to understand. The hippies threatened the livelihood of lots of workers and most people don’t like it when their livelihood is threatened. This is especially true when they don’t have enough money to live independently without a job. Thats why the workers of the timber industry started growing more fond of their bosses. The actions of the environmentalists paved the way towards an alliance of timber workers and their bosses.

      Environmentalists really needed to have a better way of dealing with people who would loose their jobs through better environmental practices rather than simple antagonism.

      • DocAmazing

        Yeah, the hard-nosed businessmen deciding to bypass the mills in the US and ship unmilled logs overseas had no effect on the livelihoods of people in the timber industry, and clear-cutting was obviously a boon for them and their communities.

        Stupid hippies.

        • Holden Pattern

          Create a false scarcity of work by arbitraging cheap overseas labor and then blame the durty hippie lieburals for job-killin’.

          Lather, rinse, repeat.

        • Antonio Conselheiro

          There were also labor-saving devices of various sorts reducing employment both in American mills and in the woods. And the timber cut never went

          Annual US timber production was stable or increasing 1965-2003 (p. 3). But in the West there was a bubble 1976-1982 and a decline of about 20% between 1965 and 2002. The bubble produced a boom-bust cycle and the bust was blamed on hippies.

      • dave3544

        I was a teenager in the NW during the timber wars of the mid-’80s and early ’90s who grew up in a timber family. Like many teens, I wasn’t exactly immersed in the issues of the day, but I was pretty politically aware and you’d have to have been pretty dim not to know the outlines of the conversation back then.

        And what I don’t recall was environmentalists calling for anyone to be put out of a job. I don’t recall environmentalists being antagonistic toward people who might lose their jobs because of the lawsuits to stop the cutting of trees. Sure, there were the tales of spiked trees and I recall my grandfather spewing about that on a few occasions – although I also seem to recall him admitting that he was not aware of any firsthand knowledge of actual spiked trees – but then my grandpa had no love of hippies going back well past the modern environmental movement. But I don’t remember environmentalists celebrating the loss of jobs or openly calling for it.

        In my family, at least, there was a general agreement that no matter what the environmentalists might be doing, you could be assured that the bosses would use whatever tool was at hand to screw over workers and make a buck. Exportation of raw logs, importing cheaper (allegedly gov’t subsidized) Canadian timber, lowering wages, whatever it took to make an extra dollar, that’s what the bosses would do, including blaming the hippies. That a lot of people bought into the hippie punching, always great fun for some in the NW, doesn’t necessarily mean that the environmentalist were to blame or were antagonizing people put out of work.

        • Murc

          Exportation of raw logs, importing cheaper (allegedly gov’t subsidized) Canadian timber

          This is somewhat tangential, but that zombie lie is one that just won’t die.

          Canada has a massive competitive advantage when it comes to softwood lumber. Full stop. And it was an even BIGGER advantage back when our currency traded with theirs at a rate of 1 to 1.25 or so. They don’t NEED to illegally subsidize its production for export, it is plenty profitable on its own.

          The US timber industry doesn’t like that one bit. Once a decade or so they manage to get U.S regulatory agencies to ban imports on some thin pretext that the Canadians are violating trade agreements. And then it goes to arbitration, and the U.S gets told to stop wasting everyones time.

          • The logging unions at least were not particularly concerned with the importation of Canadian timber, even when the industry was collapsing in the 80s.

          • dave3544

            Right. I didn’t mean to report it as a fact, but I remember it being an issue that was talked about. For some reason, I seem to recall my dad talking about it a lot, but I readily admit to not knowing the ins and outs of trade policy back then. But then, my dad most likely did not either.

            • Erik Loomis

              And of course the exportation of raw logs to Japan was a huge issue, for the unions much bigger than the owl

      • wengler

        LOSE is not LOOSE, nor is LOOSE LOSE.

        This is an internet-driven misspelling that makes me LOSE my head.

        • Hogan

          Looser.

        • Malaclypse

          Your really being unreasonable in expecting proper spelling. For all intensive purposes, we all knew what was intended. Irregardless, you really don’t need to invoke marshal law.

          • wengler

            I believe it is IRREGARDLESSLY.

    • The importation of black labor is only one piece of a deeper hatred for Kaiser. He trashed him in so many ways.

      • Antonio Conselheiro

        He was an industrialist who offered medical insurance, and his medical insurance plan is still in operation. That might be part of the accusation.

  • Malaclypse

    I never knew FDR was a Kenyan socialist usurper.

    • c u n d gulag

      And HE smoked, too!

  • c u n d gulag

    Say what you will about this Crow nutter, but that boy could WRITE!

    Today’s Conservatives? Uhm… Not so much.

    I mean, ‘a monument should be constructed of’ “soured green hemlock?”

    Could a Goldberg, Kristol, Krauthammer, Noonan, Coulter, Malkin, Bobo, Erickson, or any of the other of today’s treasured reich-wing punTWIT’s have ever come up with something THAT clever?

    I think not.

    Not when some wildly inaccurate, lame, and tepid cup of fictional tea like “Liberal Fascism” is your Holy Grail for taking down The Left.

    You can do better!
    Go back to the Library, boys and girls!
    Back to the future!!!

    • Incontinentia Buttocks

      Clearly Crow was educated before they took God out of the schools and let the teachers unions in!

  • TN

    FDR “installed in important public offices both men and women whom he could not help but know were unalterably opposed to our form of government and were surreptitiously planted at vantage points to help bring about its ruination.”

    Sounds like he was the Ron Paul of his time.

  • Holden Pattern

    I have to say that passage is just one small step of hyperbole beyond contemporary conservative rhetoric. And in substance, it’s precisely the same.

    See, e.g., “progressive taxation is the new Holocaust” by Grover Norquist.

  • Murc

    So Crow was insane. But he was also by no means atypical of the venom spewing Republicans of the 1940s. We think of Obama facing some uniquely crazy Republican opposition but it’s not so original. This kind of hackery goes back a long ways.

    This. This right here.

    A lot of people associate the modern, batshit insane version of the Republican Party with the Civil Rights era, with Goldwater and his fellows. But it goes much further back, to people who in the 30s and 40s were called Taft Republicans. Taft as in Robert Taft, Taft as in Taft-Hartley (the opening salvo against the postwar labor Grand Bargain, fired even before said bargain had been made) Taft as in ‘thought WWII was a mistake and the Nuremberg Trials a farce.’

    People talk about Joe McCarthy’s rhetoric, but among Taft Republicans McCarthy was actually something of a coward, going after low-hanging fruit; functionaries and others without much ability to defend themselves, or unfocussed salvos at Democrats in general. For the real uncut wingnuttery of the era Erik is writing about? You have to go to William Jenner, Senator from Indiana, who rose in the well of the Senate in a time of war and accused, by name, George Marshall and Harry Truman of treason and of deliberately trying to lose in Korea. This was a sitting US Senator, mind you, not some polemicist. I somehow doubt a Republican Senator could get away with doing something similar today; they speak in code and are often careful to preserve the ‘dignity’ of the Senate while speaking there.

    It’s all a grand tapestry. It goes back and back.

    • Incontinentia Buttocks

      There are, however, different brands of rightwing crazy.

      The kind of Midwestern crazy represented by Tailgunner Joe and Taft, Sr. was somewhat different from the Southern crazy that, at least in the 1950s, was still housed in the Democratic Party (though already receiving the vocal support of movement conservatives like Bill Buckley).

      When that Southern brand of rightwing crazy migrated over to the GOP during the four decades after Brown v. Board of Education, it joined up with that Old Right midwestern crazy to produce a frothy new mix…or really a series of new mixes across the conservative spectrum.

      • burritoboy

        Not quite as much as you might think. The Southern Democrats were busily making alliances with conservative Republicans even in the 1930s. Much of what FDR wanted to do was actually blocked by Southern Dems and conservative Republicans together – the conservative Republicans were by that point such a minority that they only held a small number of seats. FDR barely could keep open revolt from breaking out among his erstwhile allies by massive amounts of pork barrel projects being directed to the South, by making no real moves against American apartheid, spending a lot of time effectively bribing Southern Dem politicians with government jobs and contracts for their buddies, and so on.

        Second, there were obvious signs that the Dixiecrats were going to bolt even by the mid-1940s – which they did in 1948. Further, urban white ethnic racists in the North were already on the path to eventually become full-fledged conservatives. In Detroit, for example, which had notably bad race relations and was a bellwether city to some extent, the white population was moving away from the FDR/New Deal coalition by the early 1950s and even before.

        • The key moment is 1937-8, when FDR tried to purge the Dixiecrats by supporting New Dealers in Southern primaries at the same time that Dixiecrats got freaked out that a reorganized Executive Branch and a packed Supreme Court might have the power to go after the South’s plantation economy.

      • Eh, not really. The Taft crazy was perfectly compatible with the Southern crazy.

        Hence the emergence of the John Birch Society, Goldwater’s “principled” opposition to the Civil Rights Act, William F. Buckley’s “genteel” defense of segregation, etc.

        Murc is quite right – your true Taft Republicans thought that Ike was a commie and that Marshall should be tried for treason, whereas McCarthy avoided big-name targets for the most part.

        • Murc

          Yeah, its funny; McCarthy is the one who gets remembered, but what he was doing and saying was positively tame compared to some of his contemporaries, although it was more contemptible.

          I have my problems with Ike, but I think the country owes him a debt of gratitude for cramming Dewey’s political ambitions right back down his stupid throat in ’52. The Republicans were probably going to take the White House that year no matter who they ran, and I shudder to think what Dewey would have done in the White House. As the last Eastern Establishment Republican President (and the only one between Hoover and Nixon) Ike could have a worse legacy.

          • commie atheist

            Apparently Dewey lost becuase of the ‘stache, which women hated, and apparently reminded people of Der Fuehrer.

            Very nice website there, by the way.

    • LeeEsq

      It might be an interesting but very scary project to trace right-wing nuttiness in American history from the Colonial period to the present and see if you make a direct link from start to finish and find similarities. OTOH, this project might just be very scary and not that interesting. But yes, the roots of the American lunatic right are very deep. IMO, it all traces back to racism and militant Protestantism in one way or another.

  • burritoboy

    We shouldn’t forget, either, that there was a fairly big tribe of Northern Democratic politicians who, while maintaining liberal policies towards their white constituents, built their careers in the post-war period by combining with opposing desegregation (i.e., were defacto vocal supporters of a toned down white supremacy). None of these now exist, but they were quite prominent in their own day – Mayor Daley, Sam Yorty and many others.

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