Donald Trump’s Strangest Bedfellows: Part 16
This is Part 16 of a blog series titled “Donald Trump’s Strangest Bedfellows.”
Although each entry in the series has some information and commentary
that can be of interest “standing alone,” each builds on
information, concepts, and commentary introduced in earlier entries in the series,
and thus it is most effective to read the material sequentially from the beginning.
Click here to go to the first entry in the series, Part 1
An earlier entry in this blog series introduced the fact that there are several “dirty little secrets” behind what is now viewed with nostalgia by many Evangelical Christians as an amazingly “Christian” era of the US in the 1950s and early 1960s that they yearn to return to—even if they weren’t even born yet when that era ended. Many have put their hopes in Donald Trump’s administration to make it possible to put programs and policies in place that will allow the nation to once again become God’s Country like they assume it was in those Good Old Holy Happy Days.
August 21, 2015:Trump campaign rally in Mobile, Alabama
The first Dirty Little Secret was introduced in the most recent entry in this series, Manufacturing Revival. That entry discussed and carefully documented the following:
Dirty Little Secret #1 regarding the “spiritual revival” of the 1950s: The Revival was not at all a true grass-roots revival of “interest in the Bible,” or the spread of a sense of earnest repentance of personal sins and desiring salvation through Jesus Christ of masses of people.
The Dirty Secret is that it was a superficial stirring of emotions of the masses, very deliberately coordinated and staged by those with a political/economic agenda and bank-rolled by the Deepest Pockets in America. (Those bank rollers included the heads of huge corporations such as General Motors, Chrysler, Republic Steel, National Steel, International Harvester, Firestone Tire and Rubber, Sun Oil, Gulf Oil, Standard Oil of New Jersey, Colgate-Palmolive-Peet, Hilton Hotels, Kraft Foods, and United Airlines.)
The Dirty Secret is that these forces carefully constructed a false connection between the teachings of the Bible and the economic theories and interests of unfettered capitalism, ultimately attempting to equate Christianity with Capitalism in the minds of the public. And then they used that false connection to equate unqualified endorsement of unfettered Capitalism with “True Godly Patriotism.”
These same Deep Pocket People (DPP) had manufactured everything from Quaker Oats to steel girders, cigarettes to soap, washing machines to automobiles. And they and their Madison Avenue counterparts had created sophisticated psychological methods to sell all these things. They now turned to manufacturing a revival… to sell a self-serving version of religion.
In order to “sell” this revival, the DPP needed to set up an adversary toward whom prospective converts could vent their ire, and blame for the danger of America losing its “freedom” and rejecting its “spiritual roots.” That enemy was Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. (Yes, condemning this adversary continued long after Roosevelt’s death and the end of the Depression and WW2.) By the late 1940s they seldom “named” this enemy…instead they made vague references to the horrors of “socialistic policies”…such as Social Security and governmental regulations backing worker’s rights to collective bargaining. Such policies were darkly hinted to be undergirded by a rejection of God.
Just to clarify, for further consideration of this topic:
Capitalism: an economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state.
Unfettered Capitalism: A situation in which there is extremely minimal or NO interference by national or local governments in any aspect of private trade and industry, no attempt to in any way interfere with the decision-making processes of private owners. (To “fetter” someone or some thing is to restrain them in some way from totally free movement.)
(The article linked here provides a brief overview of the reasons a government might have for at least minimally “fettering” capitalists: “The Risks of Unfettered Capitalism.” )
Communism is usually considered to be the opposite of Capitalism.
Communism: an economic and political system in which the government, supposedly representing all the people of the society, owns the means of production and trade, and supposedly distributes all assets to the citizens equally as needed.
There is a distinct implication that under Capitalism, every individual is free to acquire and keep private property through personal effort. And that under Communism, the rights of private property are minimal.
The issue under debate in the United States has long been whether “we the people” should have the right to agree, through our votes, that there is value in establishing governmental restrictions on certain aspects of Capitalism.
In other words, should a company have a right to produce and sell a product, knowing that it has unseen hidden dangers (such as many “patent medicines” sold widely in the 19th century that included toxic ingredients)?
June 3, 1905 Collier’s magazine exposé on the toxic patent medicine epidemic
Should companies be able to freely sell items that are not at all “as advertised” (such as the many “adulterated” products sold widely in the 19th century like flour cut with sawdust or milk cut with powdered chalk)?
1820 British book by Fredrich Accum,
giving advice to the common man on conducting tests on processed foods
Are we required to just let “the free market” take its course, and either hope the company gets a conscience and stops doing these things, or that consumers “figure out on their own” which products may be a problem and just quit buying them?
There is no logical reason why the imposition of some restrictions and regulations on such things that would “promote the general welfare” (per the Preamble to the Constitution) ought to interfere, in general, with the Capitalistic basis of the economy.
The question has also been whether “we the people” should have the right to agree through our votes to the establishment of “government-owned and/or run” projects and services that would “promote the general welfare”…such as old age pensions, basic healthcare for all citizens, and help to the poor so that all Americans would have at least basic food, clothing, and shelter. There is no logical reason why this ought to interfere either, in general, with the Capitalistic basis of the economy.
But the notion of the superiority of Unfettered Capitalism insists that both of these propositions must be rejected. According to this dogma, only the unshackled profit motive can yield true prosperity.
This cheery 1937 “public service announcement” billboard (standing behind a breadline for African Americans affected by a massive flood in Louisville KY) was part of a National Association of Manufacturers pro-capitalist (and anti-New Deal) propaganda campaign.
Problems with dangerous products? Caveat Emptor is the mantra… “Let the buyer beware.”
Problems with the labor force? There should be absolutely no interference between the huge corporation that is selling a product and the people it hires to do the actual work of producing the product. If the corporation can find people willing to work, under dangerous conditions, for a wage that cannot possibly sustain a family, then it should be left alone to reap the profits it can make out of such an arrangement. The worker is always free to leave…and find another dangerous job at slave labor wages. Any interference by “collective bargaining” or setting of minimum wages or the like is considered damaging to the long-term economy…which will yield prosperity for all eventually if the Profit Motive is allowed to be King.
(That premise worked real well for miners like this little fellow, who worked daily from 7 AM to 5:30 PM.)
And this one…
Yes, the notion of the superiority of “unfettered Capitalism” has long insisted that a national government is better off keeping hands totally off the production and distribution of goods, and letting Greed be the sole driving and guiding force for the economy. And this is the notion that drove the Industrialists of the 1940s to get on board the plan to promote Unfettered Capitalism to the public as God’s Way, the Bible Way… the American Way. As seen on more NAM billboards from that era.
(That last billboard, from the same era, was likely NOT placed by the National Association of Manufacturers!)
Over the years, this approach has been dubbed “Christian Libertarianism.” As the Wikipedia article on the topic puts it, “…Christian libertarians may consider Jesus as the greatest libertarian in history.”
This public propaganda program was to be implemented in particular by recruiting the pastors, evangelists, and other religious leaders of the various religious groups in America to spread this Americanized Gospel. As documented in the previous blog entry Manufacturing Revival, by the 1950s they succeeded in this to an amazing degree.
And one of their biggest successes was to influence, clear from the ground floor of his national ministry, the perspective of the rising religious star, Billy Graham.
Billy Graham, Washington DC, 1952
The most important clergyman for Christian libertarianism, though, was the Rev. Billy Graham. In his initial ministry, in the early 1950s, Mr. Graham supported corporate interests so zealously that a London paper called him “the Big Business evangelist.” The Garden of Eden, he informed revival attendees [in 1952 in Washington DC], was a paradise with “no union dues, no labor leaders, no snakes, no disease.” In the same spirit, he denounced all “government restrictions” in economic affairs, which he invariably attacked as “socialism.” [Source]
And he declared bombastically that “organized labor unions are one of the greatest mission fields in America today” …while at the same time failing to identify the class of owners and managers as another of the greatest mission fields.
In 1952, Mr. Graham went to Washington and made Congress his congregation. He recruited representatives to serve as ushers at packed revival meetings and staged the first formal religious service held on the Capitol steps. That year, at his urging, Congress established an annual National Day of Prayer. “If I would run for president of the United States today on a platform of calling people back to God, back to Christ, back to the Bible,” he predicted, “I’d be elected.”
Dwight D. Eisenhower fulfilled that prediction. With Mr. Graham offering Scripture for Ike’s speeches, the Republican nominee campaigned in what he called a “great crusade for freedom.” His military record made the general a formidable candidate, but on the trail he emphasized spiritual issues over worldly concerns. As the journalist John Temple Graves observed: “America isn’t just a land of the free in Eisenhower’s conception. It is a land of freedom under God.” Elected in a landslide, Eisenhower told Mr. Graham that he had a mandate for a “spiritual renewal.”
But then Ike dropped a bombshell…
Although Eisenhower relied on Christian libertarian groups in the campaign, he parted ways with their agenda once elected. The movement’s corporate sponsors had seen religious rhetoric as a way to dismantle the New Deal state. But the newly elected president thought that a fool’s errand. “Should any political party attempt to abolish Social Security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs,” he noted privately, “you would not hear of that party again in our political history.” Unlike those who held public spirituality as a means to an end, Eisenhower embraced it as an end unto itself. [ibid]
From that time on, many of the Christian libertarian leaders and their Deep Pocket supporters still tapped into residual anti-New Deal feelings in some quarters in their efforts to merge the interests of Religion and Big Business. But if they were to reach the widest audience (and get help from big names like Ike) they realized that they needed to identify and point the masses to a more contemporary “prime adversary” for the masses to fear, and toward which they could vent their ire, and blame for the danger of America losing its “freedom” and rejecting its “spiritual roots.” Conveniently, a very BIG one was available. Russia.
Russia had been an ally of America in WW2. And, truth be told, did the lion’s share of the work… and did the lion’s share of the suffering on a massive scale…to defeat Nazi Germany. Yet that work and suffering brought results not from superior technological military power, but from sheer numbers of Russian citizens by the tens of millions who could be pressed into the war effort. Russian deaths during the war, both military and civilian, are estimated to have reached somewhere between 20 and 40 million people.
It was the American military that bedazzled the world with its technological power, fueled by the massive buildup of the “arsenal of democracy” in the US, everything from tanks and bombers to aircraft carriers…
…to the newly minted Atomic Bomb at the end of the war. Yes, we were the world’s biggest and baddest. Number One…the ONLY one, when it came to being a Nuclear World Power.
At the time we were the only nation with nuclear capabilities. But this was not because we were the only nation that had been working on such “terrible” weapons. US leaders suspected from US spy efforts that they were in a frantic race with Germany to see whose scientists could unravel the mystery of “splitting the atom”… and use the knowledge first to build a “terrible destructive agent.”
There is little doubt that if the Germans would have managed to pull off such a coup, they would have brandished the weapon before the astonished eyes of the world, and the history of civilization would have been quite different than it has turned out to be in the 21st century.
Instead, the US really did “beat the Germans to the punch.” But the US never used the weapon on the German front of World War 2…Germany surrendered on May 8, 1945, two months before the first Terrible Agent was tested and found ready for use.
US scientists began serious work on a nuclear bomb in 1941, just months before the US entered the war.
In August 1939, prominent physicists Leó Szilárd and Eugene Wigner drafted the Einstein–Szilárd letter, which warned of the potential development of “extremely powerful bombs of a new type”. It urged the United States to take steps to acquire stockpiles of uranium ore and accelerate the research of Enrico Fermi and others into nuclear chain reactions. They had it signed by Albert Einstein and delivered to President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
(Einstein had added his own comments: “A single bomb of this type, carried by boat and exploded in a port, might well destroy the whole port with some of the surrounding territory. Letter from Albert Einstein to U.S. President Roosevelt in 1939)
Roosevelt called on Lyman Briggs of the National Bureau of Standards to head the Advisory Committee on Uranium to investigate the issues raised by the letter. Briggs held a meeting on 21 October 1939, which was attended by Szilárd, Wigner and Edward Teller. The committee reported back to Roosevelt in November that uranium “would provide a possible source of bombs with a destructiveness vastly greater than anything now known.”
Briggs proposed that the National Defense Research Committee (NDRC) spend $167,000 on research into uranium, particularly the uranium-235 isotope, and the recently discovered plutonium. On 28 June 1941, Roosevelt signed Executive Order 8807, which created the Office of Scientific Research and Development (OSRD),with Vannevar Bush as its director.
This led directly to the establishment of what was dubbed the “Manhattan Project.”
Sign leading into the Oakridge TN location of Manhattan Project work
At a meeting between President Roosevelt, Vannevar Bush and Vice President Henry A. Wallace on 9 October 1941, the President approved the atomic program. To control it, he created a Top Policy Group consisting of himself—although he never attended a meeting—Wallace, Bush, Conant, Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson and the Chief of Staff of the Army, General George Marshall. Roosevelt chose the Army to run the project rather than the Navy, as the Army had the most experience with management of large-scale construction projects. He also agreed to coordinate the effort with that of the British, and on 11 October he sent a message to Prime Minister Winston Churchill, suggesting that they correspond on atomic matters. [ibid]
Four years later, the scientists involved in the project had indeed created the prototype of “an extremely powerful bomb of a new type.” In an extremely powerful instance of understatement, those involved in the project nicknamed the creation “the gadget.”
A test of The Gadget was arranged for July 16, 1945, in the desert about 35 miles southeast of Socorro, New Mexico, at the Alamogordo Test Range, in the Jornada del Muerto (Journey of the Dead Man) desert. (Now the White Sands Missile Range.) The code name for this test—in a powerful instance of irony—was “Trinity.” Major General Leslie Groves of the US Army Corps of Engineers, director of the Manhattan Project oversaw the test.
At 05:30 on 16 July 1945 the gadget exploded with an energy equivalent of around 20 kilotons [20,000 tons: 20KT] of TNT, leaving a crater of Trinitite (radioactive glass) in the desert 250 feet (76 m) wide. The shock wave was felt over 100 miles (160 km) away, and the mushroom cloud reached 7.5 miles (12.1 km) in height. It was heard as far away as El Paso, Texas, so Groves issued a cover story about an ammunition magazine explosion at Alamogordo Field. [ibid]
The Genie was out of the bottle, and it would not be returned. You can experience a tiny bit of the real-life drama of the moment in this short clip from a BBC docudrama about the Trinity explosion, which includes actual footage of the real blast in the background behind the actors.
Confident that The Gadget worked satisfactorily, and with the end of the War with Japan not clearly in sight, the extremely controversial decision was made to use two similar gadgets on the (primarily) civilian population of two large cities in Japan.
Less than a month after the Trinity test, an August 6, 1945, an Atomic Bomb code-named “Little Boy” was exploded over the Japanese city of Hiroshima (population approximately 350,000). It yielded the destructive power of 20 thousand tons (20KT) of TNT
Little Boy ready to be loaded into the bomber Enola Gay
A rare color image, taken by a 16 mm movie camera aboard a B-29 dubbed The Great Artiste, shows the first atomic weapon exploding over Hiroshima on August 6, 1945.
Before and after pictures of Hiroshima from the sky show the effects of Little Boy.
And from the ground it is even more obvious how little was left standing.
The plan was to detonate a second bomb, code-named “Fat Man” (with the same 20KT destructive power) three days later, on August 9, over the city of Kokura.
The actual Fat Man bomb that was dropped on Nagasaki assembled and ready for combat.
But as the plane with the bomb neared that city, a cloud cover prevented effective implementation of bombing plans, and the plane headed instead to the secondary target that had been decided on, the city of Nagasaki (population approximately 240,000).
Before and after photos of Nagasaki from the sky show the effects of Fat Man.
But the photos above only show primarily the damage to “man-made structures.” Not shown is the effect on the (mostly civilian) population of humans.
Within the first two to four months of the bombings, the acute effects killed 90,000–166,000 people in Hiroshima and 60,000–80,000 in Nagasaki, with roughly half of the deaths in each city occurring on the first day. The Hiroshima prefecture health department estimated that, of the people who died on the day of the explosion, 60% died from flash or flame burns, 30% from falling debris and 10% from other causes. During the following months, large numbers died from the effect of burns, radiation sickness, and other injuries, compounded by illness.
Six days later, on August 15, the government of Japan announced its surrender to the Allies.
It was undisputed at this point that the US had the biggest, baddest weapons in the world. And no doubt most Americans were convinced that from this point on we had nothing to fear from anyone!
But, as it turned out, this reputation didn’t last long. And the rival to fear in the Atomic Race was not Germany after all. It was our US ally in WW2, the Soviet Union.
“I begin to believe in only one civilizing influence—the discovery one of these days
of a destructive agent so terrible that War shall mean annihilation
and men’s fears will force them to keep the peace”.
English author Wilkie Collins,
writing at the time of the Franco-Prussian War in 1870.
It took only 75 years for Collins’ speculation to come to fruition.
And his comments are recognized as probably the earliest reference to the concept dubbed during the Cold War as “Mutual Assured Destruction.” MAD.
In August 1945, the United States accepted the surrender of Japan after the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Four years later, on August 29, 1949, the Soviet Union detonated its own nuclear device. At the time, both sides lacked the means to effectively use nuclear devices against each other. However, with the development of aircraft like the Convair B-36, both sides were gaining a greater ability to deliver nuclear weapons into the interior of the opposing country.
The official nuclear policy of the United States was one of “massive retaliation”, as coined by President Dwight D. Eisenhower‘s Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, which called for massive attack against the Soviet Union if they were to invade Europe, regardless of whether it was a conventional or a nuclear attack.
From that point on, both nations entered an “arms race” that was much like kids playing “king of the hill.” Both kept making bigger and better bombs and testing them…sometimes secretly, sometimes with great fanfare.
And for a while it certainly wasn’t clear if Wilkie Collins’ theory, later dubbed “Mutual Assured Destruction,” would work …before the world WAS indeed annihilated. For by October 22, 1961, American President John F. Kennedy read the following statement to the assembled nation in front of their television sets–at home or in public places like the tv sales floor of a department store pictured below–at the peak of the “Cuban Missile Crisis.”
It shall be the policy of this Nation to regard any nuclear missile launched from Cuba against any nation in the Western Hemisphere as an attack by the Soviet Union on the United States, requiring a full retaliatory response upon the Soviet Union.
I call upon Chairman Khrushchev to halt and eliminate this clandestine, reckless and provocative threat to world peace and to stable relations between our two nations. I call upon him further to abandon this course of world domination, and to join in an historic effort to end the perilous arms race and to transform the history of man. He has an opportunity now to move the world back from the abyss of destruction—by returning to his government’s own words that it had no need to station missiles outside its own territory, and withdrawing these weapons from Cuba—by refraining from any action which will widen or deepen the present crisis–and then by participating in a search for peaceful and permanent solutions.
“The Abyss of Destruction.”
Pretty strong words! The US had fought in WW1, according to President Woodrow Wilson, to “make the world safe for democracy.” But obviously that hadn’t worked.
So we’d fought WW2 to finish the job. And finish it we thought we did, with a display of power the likes of which the world had never seen. It must have seemed, to the average citizen, that after we dropped the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and brought the Japanese to their knees, SURELY the world was safe now. America would be the policeman of the world, since it was the nation with the Biggest Billy Club. In fact, the only nation with that Club.
So how did we manage to get from there in 1945 to the edge of the “Abyss of Destruction” a mere 17 years later?
From the Wikipedia entry, History of Nuclear Weapons
The Soviet Union was not invited to share in the new weapons developed by the United States and the other Allies. During the war, information had been pouring in from a number of volunteer spies involved with the Manhattan Project (known in Soviet cables under the code-name of Enormoz), and the Soviet nuclear physicist Igor Kurchatov was carefully watching the Allied weapons development. It came as no surprise to Stalin when Truman had informed him at the Potsdam conference that he had a “powerful new weapon.” Truman was shocked at Stalin’s lack of interest.
The Soviet spies in the U.S. project were all volunteers and none were Russians. One of the most valuable, Klaus Fuchs, was a German émigré theoretical physicist who had been a part in the early British nuclear efforts and had been part of the UK mission to Los Alamos during the war. Fuchs had been intimately involved in the development of the implosion weapon, and passed on detailed cross-sections of the “Trinity” device to his Soviet contacts. Other Los Alamos spies—none of whom knew each other—included Theodore Hall and David Greenglass. The information was kept but not acted upon, as Russia was still too busy fighting the war in Europe to devote resources to this new project.
But once the war was over, the Russians hurried to begin making use of all of that Spy vs Spy information.
(Speaking of Spy vs Spy…those classic cartoon characters debuted in January 1961 in Mad Magazine—creator Antonio Prohias had only months earlier fled from his native Cuba under threat of arrest—or even execution—for his satirical parodies of the new Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.)
And the Russian scientists were quick learners.
Two days after the bombing of Nagasaki, the U.S. government released an official technical history of the Manhattan Project, authored by Princeton physicist Henry DeWolf Smyth, known colloquially as the Smyth Report. The sanitized summary of the wartime effort focused primarily on the production facilities and scale of investment, written in part to justify the wartime expenditure to the American public.
The Soviet program, under the suspicious watch of former NKVD [the Soviet Secret Police] chief Lavrenty Beria (a participant and victor in Stalin’s Great Purge of the 1930s), would use the Report as a blueprint, seeking to duplicate as much as possible the American effort. The “secret cities” used for the Soviet equivalents of Hanford and Oak Ridge literally vanished from the maps for decades to come.
And it only took them four years…some of it taken up with some bumbling of their efforts…for the Soviets to duplicate what was in the Report.
On August 29, 1949, the effort brought its results, when the USSR tested its first fission bomb, dubbed “Joe-1” by the U.S. [in reference to Joseph Stalin], years ahead of American predictions.
Joe-1 with chief designer
The news of the first Soviet bomb was announced to the world first by the United States, which had detected the nuclear fallout it generated from its test site in Kazakhstan.[ Joe-1 had a yield of 22 KT of TNT, very similar to the US Trinity and Fat Man bombs.]
The loss of the American monopoly on nuclear weapons marked the first tit-for-tat of the nuclear arms race. The response in the U.S. was one of apprehension, fear, and scapegoating, which would lead eventually into the Red-baiting tactics of McCarthyism. Yet recent information from unclassified Venona intercepts and the opening of the KGB archives after the fall of the Soviet Union show that the USSR had useful spies that helped their program, although none were identified by McCarthy.
In order to test the effects of the new weapon, workers constructed houses made of wood and bricks, along with a bridge, and a simulated metro [electric railway] in the vicinity of the test site. Armoured hardware and approximately 50 aircraft were also brought to the testing grounds, as well as over 1,500 animals to test the bomb’s effects on life. The resulting data showed the RDS explosion to be 50% more destructive than originally estimated by its engineers.[ibid]
And the race was on.
The news of this frightening development was released to the US public in screaming headlines on September 23, 1949.
Just two days later, on September 25, Billy Graham started the eight weeks of his first great revival, in Los Angeles, as the news of the Russian test raced around the world. Said Billy during the revival, “Now that Russia has the atomic bomb, the world is in an armament race driving us to destruction.”
Although Billy tended to regularly hammer on aspects of the policies and programs of Roosevelt’s New Deal throughout his preaching career, in the early 1950s he couldn’t help but realize that his audience might often have their minds more on Stalin’s New Bomb than on American politics and economics and the old New Deal. So why not use that angst to nudge more people out of their seats at a revival to walk down to the stage and give their heart to the Lord so that their Eternal destination was assured if The Worst soon ended up happening? From that point on the Cold War with Russia became a repeating theme in his messages too.
And eventually the corporate titans who supported his ministry (along with that of James Fifield and other “Christian Libertarians”) in the hopes of melding religion and economics to their advantage, also understood that playing to the fears of the masses about the Russian threat would be useful also. No reason that Roosevelt, the New Deal, politics, religion, economics, and the Russians couldn’t all be skillfully stirred together into a nice stew that would give Unfettered Capitalism a distinctly Christian flavor.
More about this in the next entry in this blog series: