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Hell Bent for Election

[ 36 ] October 12, 2012 |

If you’ve never seen this cartoon by Chuck Jones from Looney Tunes and produced by the United Auto Workers in support of FDR’s 1944 re-election, do yourself a favor and check it out. This is quality political art.

I want to ride that FDR bullet train.

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  1. I’ll be honest: I think it’s a great bit of wartime cartooning (and I’m a sucker for Harburg music), but the framing disturbs me. I know the end of the war wasn’t entirely a foregone conclusion, but let’s face it: Dewey’s election would have made allied victory no less likely, because by the time the change of government happened it would be early ’45.

    Tagging the Republicans as moneyed interests working against labor seems like a perfectly reasonable framing. Accusing them of treason and defeatism seems extreme and gratuitous.

    • Erik Loomis says:

      I too am shocked by dirty politics….

    • The Dark Avenger says:

      Look up the Federal Register for December 7, 1942, the fellow I’m thinking of has the first name of Prescott……………

    • YankeeFrank says:

      Please. Many republicans of the day made millions selling supplies to the Nazis, including the aforementioned Prescott Bush. We forget how many from the upper class of that era sympathized with the Nazi cause. And lets not mention the fact that even those capitalists that were not exactly Nazi sympathizers still demanded, as the cartoon points out, that they must make a “fair” profit from supplying the war effort. Why? Did they not have enough dough? Could they not afford a little patriotism and forego profit for a few years to support the war effort? War profiteering amongst the capitalist class has a long and disgusting history. I don’t find the framing inaccurate at all.

  2. dollared says:

    And partly true – right, IBM? and moreover, effective.

    But I’m glad you can sleep at night with your principles. Did I mention that 1/3 of the children in the United States are below the poverty line? Oh yeah, that’s less important than how you sleep.

    • Erik Loomis says:

      What on earth are you talking about?

    • Dollared says:

      OK, it was a fast pivot. My pivot was in response to Ahistoricality.

      Just left a seminar on IBM’s embrace of large German government data management projects in the 1930s as a path to growth and profitability. I’m sure you know that there is significant evidence that the right flirted with Nazism in the prewar years. Doesn’t seem entirely unfair to remind people of that.

      And children: half of those children are in poverty because of an insanely effective, mendacious class war conducted by the right for 30 years. And we’re concerned about whether Roosevelt’s tactics were proper? Maybe we should worry about results a bit more.

      BTW, love the cartoon.

      • DocAmazing says:

        I’m sure you know that there is significant evidence that the right flirted with Nazism in the prewar years.

        “Flirted with” in the sense that I flirt with my wife of twelve years. Henry Ford was a big Hitler fan, and he was only the most obvious.

        • Joel Patterson says:

          Didn’t Henry Ford write a book entitled “The International Jew” or something like that?

          • “Didn’t Henry Ford write a book entitled “The International Jew” or something like that?”

            Yup. He’s also a big part of the reason the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” are still famous instead of being the forgotten Tsarist propaganda they should’ve been. Fun guy.

            • Murc says:

              Let’s not forget the way he wasn’t just outraged, but was truly and genuinely saddened, and felt personally slighted, by the decision of his workers to unionize.

              That takes a real special mind. Being pissed off your workers are getting uppity just makes you a jerk. Taking it as a personal betrayal makes you someone who conceives of himself as… I dunno. Some sort of medieval lord.

            • DocAmazing says:

              He used to send Hitler large checks on his birthday. He kept Ford open in Nazi Germany as Opel so that the Germans would not be without trucks.

              Yeah, fun guy.

        • IM says:

          But the republican candidate in 1944 was Thomas Dewey. So most of the accusations here are a bit misplaced.

          • DocAmazing says:

            His supporters and financial backers were the same financiers and industrialists who admired Mussolini and who were accused by General Smedley Butler of attempting to organize a coup. The candidate was quite different, but the party was pretty much the same.

            • IM says:

              look the republican party of the day had a genuine moderate wing. Dewey’s running mate in 1948 was Earl Warren after all.

              And the a lot of the conservative politicians were part of the democratic coalition – the one party state of the south.

              • Go4Broke says:

                In distant lands our boys are facing the Yellow Horde that seeks to overrun and
                trample civilization and liberty where\’er it exists, At home we are threatened with
                enemies from within as well as from without. For the first time in the history of our
                Golden State, California finds itself in the front trenches of a combat zone.

                California Republican Party platform 1942

                The only reason that there has been no sabotage or espionage on the part of Japanese-Americans is that they are waiting for the right moment to strike.

                Earl Warren
                campaign speech 1942

                In California, AG Warren played the key role in advocating for the removal and internment of Japanese Americans. Warren’s campaign for governor was centered around his leadership roll in internment and Governor Olson being ‘soft on Japs.’

                • IM says:

                  Well yes, but the man actually giving the orders to intern was FDR.

                  Have you ever seen the Dr. Seuss comics from that time?

                  In this very movie the japanese emperor is depicting in his racist tradition.

                  And perhaps the democratic party of california did oppose interment – but I doubt it.

      • Jim Lynch says:

        I got you the first time, Dollared. It’s just some folks are slower on the uptake than others, is all.

  3. L.M. says:

    This film makes me confused and sad. Robust unions? Fast trains? What country is this set in, again?

    I recognized the cars carrying regressive taxes, labor laws, unemployment insurance, and Social Security, though.

  4. It’s interesting to see the Defeatist Limited’s caboose have prison bars and be labeled “Jim Crow Car” (~6:00), and the ballot for Joe Worker (~11:30) has an image of four working people, two men, two women, one each black and white.

    Also, the lyric, as the evil Republican train rolls by of, “You’ll get pie in the sky when you die” still works for them today.

  5. m says:

    I noticed in the credits that the lyrics were written by “E. Y. Harberg”. Yup, that’s the same Yip Harberg who wrote “Brother Can You Spare A Dime?” and all the lyrics for “The Wizard of Oz” (including “that rainbow” song which Louis B. Mayer demanded be cut. He hated “that rainbow song”.)

  6. efgoldman says:

    I noticed in the credits that the lyrics were written by “E. Y. Harberg”. Yup, that’s the same Yip Harberg who wrote “Brother Can You Spare A Dime?”

    Well you know all those artsy-fartsy types were commies, right? That’s what Joe McCarthy taught us.

  7. Paul says:

    ” He kept Ford open in Nazi Germany as Opel so that the Germans would not be without trucks.”

    Wow an international company stayed open Germany before the US was at war with it…

    Look Ford was racist anti – union jerk but he also came up with the 5 dollar work day and built the GAZ plant for Stalin based on the Rouge plant. Look what was Ford as the company/corporation supposed to – see the future and quietly disassemble all of its infrastructure take it home and what fire all its German workers in 1936 or 39?

    Be honest for all the win the war BS in the video the US was more or less indifferent to events in Europe and just looking to do business in Germany or the UK or the USSR – where Ford operated at the time.

    Beside get your facts correct Opel was a controlled by GM at the time and was in any case a German founded company – sometimes the liberal echo chamber is just as bad as FOX.

    Finally since there was no Ford Built equivalent of the Willow Run plant churning out bombers at a daily rate that would have made Speer swoon I think Ford as a closet Nazi is a piss poor argument.

    • Paul says:

      edit/add: sorry saying the US went to war is over generous only France and the UK deserve that credit – the USSR and US may have spent more blood and treasure in the end but they were also content to watch the planet go down the drain before the Axis made them fight.

    • YankeeFrank says:

      You wrote:

      “Be honest for all the win the war BS in the video the US was more or less indifferent to events in Europe and just looking to do business in Germany or the UK or the USSR – where Ford operated at the time.”

      Its convenient of you to conflate big business interests with “the US”. “The US” is a lot of people, almost all of whom were not “just looking to do business in Germany”. The tiny part of the US that you are referring to is the part that belonged, lock, stock and barrel, to the Republican party.

      And beyond that, your historical analysis is largely ignorant of the effects of WWI on the national psyche. We were entirely sick of “Europe’s wars” well before WWII rolled around. The fact that we got involved at all is testimony to a rather unique national conscience. Does anyone actually think ANY European nation in our position would’ve lifted a finger? Even today they are content to let us bear the brunt of western oil security (an arguably worthy goal, but one that benefits Europe nonetheless), and are loathe to involve themselves in foreign affairs, even when genocide is being committed on their own doorstep. Its no wonder it took us a while to involve ourselves.

      • IM says:

        The fact that we got involved at all is testimony to a rather unique national conscience.

        Is this about some sort of alternative history USA?

        In this reality a small event called pearl harbour was needed.

        • The Dark Avenger says:

          In talking about the European side of the War, he is correct. Hitler declared war on America based on a treaty he had no reason to live up to, and it isn’t clear if Roosevelt could’ve gotten a declaration of War against Hitler if he had had to ask for it.

          • IM says:

            and it isn’t clear if Roosevelt could’ve gotten a declaration of War against Hitler if he had had to ask for it.

            But that is the point. The unique national conscience is a later myth.

  8. Paul says:

    Actually ‘m not ignorant but I think the facile charge that somehow Ford was pro-Nazi (or maybe a communist given its dealing with Russia) is silly. Look my point was the US was broadly disinterested in becoming entangled in pre-WW2 European politics. Add in that given the US was OK more or less with Jim Crow laws and segregation and would short intern lots of ‘Japs’ it seems a little silly to argue the US was helping Hitler or that all US industry should have some kind of moral moment and stopped working with any country that was mean to people (which one anyway since we are seemingly ignoring the European empires or that fun guy Joe Stalin – I mean what do you think – Ford: you can buy any color you want as long as it black and you pass a personal morality test?). Did US companies do business with Germany right up till the War – sure, but they did so with France, Italy, the USSR, China, Italy and England and as far as I can tell Ford was not giving Germany some kind of secret discount… It not like productivity at Ford Germany plants was uber great and in England piss poor before December 41.

  9. Defeatism may have been an unfair charge against Dewey, but it fits contemporary Republicans perfectly. They just don’t believe big problems are soluble: health care, the deficit, climate change. So retreat and build a gated community of comfort for the rich.
    In 1944, the US built 96,270 aircraft for war: one every six minutes. But to Republicans, building one wind turbine an hour is a hippie dream.

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