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Three New Deals: Why the Nazis and Fascists Loved FDR | Mises Institute

Posted by M. C. on December 30, 2019

Mussolini, who did not allow his work as dictator to interrupt his prolific journalism, wrote a glowing review of Roosevelt’s Looking Forward. He found “reminiscent of fascism … the principle that the state no longer leaves the economy to its own devices”; and, in another review, this time of Henry Wallace’s New Frontiers, Il Duce found the Secretary of Agriculture’s program similar to his own corporativism (pp. 23-24).

David Gordon

Critics of Roosevelt’s New Deal often liken it to fascism. Roosevelt’s numerous defenders dismiss this charge as reactionary propaganda; but as Wolfgang Schivelbusch makes clear, it is perfectly true. Moreover, it was recognized to be true during the 1930s, by the New Deal’s supporters as well as its opponents.

When Roosevelt took office in March 1933, he received from Congress an extraordinary delegation of powers to cope with the Depression.

The broad-ranging powers granted to Roosevelt by Congress, before that body went into recess, were unprecedented in times of peace. Through this “delegation of powers,” Congress had, in effect, temporarily done away with itself as the legislative branch of government. The only remaining check on the executive was the Supreme Court. In Germany, a similar process allowed Hitler to assume legislative power after the Reichstag burned down in a suspected case of arson on February 28, 1933. (p. 18).

The Nazi press enthusiastically hailed the early New Deal measures: America, like the Reich, had decisively broken with the “uninhibited frenzy of market speculation.” The Nazi Party newspaper, the Völkischer Beobachter, “stressed ‘Roosevelt’s adoption of National Socialist strains of thought in his economic and social policies,’ praising the president’s style of leadership as being compatible with Hitler’s own dictatorial Führerprinzip” (p. 190).

Nor was Hitler himself lacking in praise for his American counterpart. He “told American ambassador William Dodd that he was ‘in accord with the President in the view that the virtue of duty, readiness for sacrifice, and discipline should dominate the entire people. These moral demands which the President places before every individual citizen of the United States are also the quintessence of the German state philosophy, which finds its expression in the slogan “The Public Weal Transcends the Interest of the Individual”‘” (pp. 19-20). A New Order in both countries had replaced an antiquated emphasis on rights.

Mussolini, who did not allow his work as dictator to interrupt his prolific journalism, wrote a glowing review of Roosevelt’s Looking Forward. He found “reminiscent of fascism … the principle that the state no longer leaves the economy to its own devices”; and, in another review, this time of Henry Wallace’s New Frontiers, Il Duce found the Secretary of Agriculture’s program similar to his own corporativism (pp. 23-24).

Roosevelt never had much use for Hitler, but Mussolini was another matter. “‘I don’t mind telling you in confidence,’ FDR remarked to a White House correspondent, ‘that I am keeping in fairly close touch with that admirable Italian gentleman'” (p. 31). Rexford Tugwell, a leading adviser to the president, had difficulty containing his enthusiasm for Mussolini’s program to modernize Italy: “It’s the cleanest … most efficiently operating piece of social machinery I’ve ever seen. It makes me envious” (p. 32, quoting Tugwell).

Why did these contemporaries sees an affinity between Roosevelt and the two leading European dictators, while most people today view them as polar opposites? People read history backwards: they project the fierce antagonisms of World War II, when America battled the Axis, to an earlier period. At the time, what impressed many observers, including as we have seen the principal actors themselves, was a new style of leadership common to America, Germany, and Italy.

Once more we must avoid a common misconception. Because of the ruthless crimes of Hitler and his Italian ally, it is mistakenly assumed that the dictators were for the most part hated and feared by the people they ruled. Quite the contrary, they were in those pre-war years the objects of considerable adulation. A leader who embodied the spirit of the people had superseded the old bureaucratic apparatus of government.

While Hitler’s and Roosevelt’s nearly simultaneous ascension to power highlighted fundamental differences … contemporary observers noted that they shared an extraordinary ability to touch the soul of the people. Their speeches were personal, almost intimate. Both in their own way gave their audiences the impression that they were addressing not the crowd, but each listener as an individual. (p. 54)

But does not Schivelbusch’s thesis fall before an obvious objection? No doubt Roosevelt, Hitler, and Mussolini were charismatic leaders; and all of them rejected laissez-faire in favor of the new gospel of a state-managed economy. But Roosevelt preserved civil liberties, while the dictators did not.

Schivelbusch does not deny the manifest differences between Roosevelt and the other leaders; but even if the New Deal was a “soft fascism”, the elements of compulsion were not lacking. The “Blue Eagle” campaign of the National Recovery Administration serves as his principal example. Businessmen who complied with the standards of the NRA received a poster that they could display prominently in their businesses. Though compliance was supposed to be voluntary, the head of the program, General Hugh Johnson, did not shrink from appealing to illegal mass boycotts to ensure the desired results.

“The public,” he [Johnson] added, “simply cannot tolerate non-compliance with their plan.” In a fine example of doublespeak, the argument maintained that cooperation with the president was completely voluntary but that exceptions would not be tolerated because the will of the people was behind FDR. As one historian [Andrew Wolvin] put it, the Blue Eagle campaign was “based on voluntary cooperation, but those who did not comply were to be forced into participation.” (p. 92)

Schivelbusch compares this use of mass psychology to the heavy psychological pressure used in Germany to force contributions to the Winter Relief Fund.

Both the New Deal and European fascism were marked by what Wilhelm Röpke aptly termed the “cult of the colossal.” The Tennessee Valley Authority was far more than a measure to bring electrical power to rural areas. It symbolized the power of government planning and the war on private business:

The TVA was the concrete-and-steel realization of the regulatory authority at the heart of the New Deal. In this sense, the massive dams in the Tennessee Valley were monuments to the New Deal, just as the New Cities in the Pontine Marshes were monuments to Fascism … But beyond that, TVA propaganda was also directed against an internal enemy: the capitalist excesses that had led to the Depression… (pp. 160, 162)

This outstanding study is all the more remarkable in that Schivelbusch displays little acquaintance with economics. Mises and Hayek are absent from his pages, and he grasps the significance of architecture much more than the errors of Keynes. Nevertheless, he has an instinct for the essential. He concludes the book by recalling John T. Flynn’s great book of 1944, As We Go Marching.

Flynn, comparing the New Deal with fascism, foresaw a problem that still faces us today.

But willingly or unwillingly, Flynn argued, the New Deal had put itself into the position of needing a state of permanent crisis or, indeed, permanent war to justify its social interventions. “It is born in crisis, lives on crises, and cannot survive the era of crisis…. Hitler’s story is the same.” … Flynn’s prognosis for the regime of his enemy Roosevelt sounds more apt today than when he made it in 1944 … “We must have enemies,” he wrote in As We Go Marching. “They will become an economic necessity for us.” (pp. 186, 191)

Originally published September 2006.

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While Donald Trump flirts with Russia, Eastern Europe ...

FDR with his “Uncle Joe”



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World War II, Pearl Harbor and Poland

Posted by M. C. on December 7, 2019

Did you ever realize that WWII was started because England was obligated by treaty to defend Poland (from Hitler in this case) but FDR and Churchill gave away Poland to Franklin’s “Papa Joe” at Yalta? It seems to have defeated the whole purpose.

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The Influence and Origins of FDR | Mises Institute

Posted by M. C. on October 19, 2019

Roosevelt stands for the national government as we know it today: a vast, unfathomable bureaucratic apparatus that recognizes no limits whatsoever to its power, either at home or abroad. Internationally, it gives every evidence of intending to run the whole world, of extending its hegemony — now that the Soviet Union is no more — to every corner of the globe.

Ralph Raico

In the two centuries or so of our history, it has happened that a few of our leaders — a very few — became symbols of some powerful idea, one that left a permanent imprint on the life of our country. Thomas Jefferson is one such symbol. With Jefferson, it is the idea of a free, self-governing people, dedicated to the enjoyment of their God-given natural rights, in their work, their communities, and the bosom of their families. Abraham Lincoln symbolizes a rather different idea — of America as a great, centralized nation-state, supposedly dedicated to individual freedom, but founded on the unquestioned authority and power of the national government in Washington.

And now Franklin Roosevelt, too, has come to represent a certain conception of America, one that is worlds apart from Jefferson’s vision, and different from anything that even Lincoln could have imagined. Roosevelt stands for the national government as we know it today: a vast, unfathomable bureaucratic apparatus that recognizes no limits whatsoever to its power, either at home or abroad. Internationally, it gives every evidence of intending to run the whole world, of extending its hegemony — now that the Soviet Union is no more — to every corner of the globe.

Domestically, it undertakes, through an annual budget of close to $2 trillion, to assuage every real or invented social ill and thus enters into every aspect of the people’s lives. In particular, it is engaged in what even a couple of decades ago would have seemed fantastic — a campaign to annihilate freedom of association, subjecting the American people to a program of radical social engineering, in order to transform their voluntarily held traditional beliefs and values and way of life.

More than anyone else, Franklin Roosevelt is responsible for creating the Leviathan state that confronts us today.

In his own time, FDR had many influential enemies in business, politics, and the press, men and women who recognized what he was doing to the republic they loved and who fought him tenaciously. They were proud to be known as “Roosevelt haters.” Today, however, practically the whole of the political class in the United States has been converted into idolaters of Franklin Roosevelt.

This state of affairs was epitomized last May, when the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial was dedicated in Washington, DC. Situated on a 7.5-acre site by the Tidal Basin, it includes an 800-foot wall, six waterfalls, outdoor galleries, and nine sculptures. Congress voted $42.5 million to fund the memorial, Republicans (those wild revolutionaries) joining Democrats with equal enthusiasm. No one breathed a word about Roosevelt’s failure to end the Depression, his lying us into war, his warm friendship with Joseph Stalin, and similar milestones in his long career — the major controversy was over whether or not he should be shown with his signature jaunty cigarette-holder. (In deference to the forces of political correctness, he wasn’t.)

Most revealing was that self-styled conservative organs such as the National Review and the American Spectator joined in the hosannas. It is a sign of how far things have moved that abject adulation of Franklin Roosevelt is now the order of the day even at the Wall Street Journal. The Journal has long been supposed to be the voice of American business, a quality paper that stood for the market economy and limited government, and so was the counterpart to the New York Times in the American press. On the occasion of the dedication of the FDR memorial, the Journal expressed its opinion through an article by one of its editors, a certain Dorothy Rabinowitz (who used to review movies). Rabinowitz was outraged that Ed Crane, president of the Cato Institute, had dared to refer to her hero as “a lousy president.” No, she insisted, Roosevelt was a great one.

Why? Well, because of “the depth of his hold on minds and hearts,” because in the midst of the Depression he gave the people hope, because he stood firm against Hitler, because when he died even Radio Tokyo called him a “great man.” Roosevelt’s many enemies, in his time and even now, never had any good reason to condemn this man who changed America so radically; they were merely “maddened by hatred of him.” In all of Rabinowitz’s effusion there were no hard facts, no analysis, no argument (and certainly no mention of FDR’s great friend Joseph Stalin). It was all sentimental gush. And so the Wall Street Journal enters the age of Oprah Winfrey journalism.

Such productions by FDR’s devotees are by no means mere exercises in historical myth-making. They perform a vital political function for the antifreedom forces in contemporary America. Simply put: the glorification of Franklin Roosevelt means the validation of the Leviathan state. Thus it is of great importance to those on the side of freedom to understand who this man really was, what he really stood for, and what, as a matter of historical truth, he inflicted on the American republic.

Franklin Roosevelt was born in 1882, in the family mansion overlooking the Hudson River, on the 1,300-acre estate that came to be known as Hyde Park. On his father, James’s, side, Franklin could trace his ancestry back to the middle of the 17th century, when a forebear immigrated from Holland to what was then New Amsterdam. Part of the family settled in Oyster Bay, Long Island, eventually producing Franklin’s distant cousin, Theodore.

The Hudson Valley Roosevelts tended to marry well, mainly into affluent families of English descent — by the time Franklin came on the scene he was, despite his name, of nearly purely English heritage. His mother, Sara, was from an equally prominent family, the Delanos. Franklin was his doting parents’ only child. While by no means fabulously rich, the family was of the sort that mingled freely with the Astors and the Vanderbilts and the rest of the high society of nearby New York City.

Until the age of 14, Franklin was tutored at home. Not at all a bookish boy, he loved nature and, above all, boating on the Hudson and at the family summer home in Campobello, Maine. He developed a passion for stamp collecting, which he pursued all his life. His admirers later claimed that this hobby gave him great insight into the geography, resources, and character of all the world’s nations — more pro-Roosevelt blather. He often visited New York and toured Europe every year with his parents. The inevitable word to describe the Roosevelts and their lifestyle is patrician.

Franklin’s prep school was Groton, near New London, Massachusetts, as close to an English “public” (i. e., private) school as one could get on this side of the Atlantic. The whole ethos of the place was “Old English,” an attempt to copy the educational experience of schools such as Eton and Harrow, whose job it was to shape the future ruling class of the great world empire. At Groton, Franklin lived and studied among the progeny of his own class, those who felt themselves to be the fated future leaders of American business, education, religion, and, above all, politics. Ironically, a fellow Grotonian in Franklin’s day was the young Robert McCormick, whose father owned the Chicago Tribune — ironically, because Colonel McCormick, as he was known in later life (after his service in the First World War), went on to become the greatest and best-known “Roosevelt hater” of them all.

Franklin was a mediocre student at Groton in every respect. His top grades were no better than B; he did not stand out in debating or sports, nor was he particularly popular with the other boys. In 1900, he went on to Harvard, where he showed as little interest in studies or ideas as he had at prep school. Franklin coasted through college with the traditional “gentleman’s C” average that was perfectly acceptable in the sons of the elite at that time.

His social life, however, improved dramatically. Franklin was already beginning to display the affability and charm that so bedazzled politicians and the press in the years ahead. Of course, his popularity was helped along by his family name. Cousin Theodore had been elected vice president, and then, in 1901, through the assassination of William McKinley, had become president of the United States.

It was only natural that Franklin, already toying with the idea of a career in politics, should pay close attention to the doings of his presidential relation. Theodore was the first president in the distinctively modern mold: he had a sense of drama and timing and a natural grasp of how to exploit the press to create a persona for himself in the eyes of the people. Beyond that, TR, as he was commonly known, had a rare ability to make personal use of popular causes and resentments. It was the age of “progressivism,” a vague term, but one that connoted a new readiness to use the power of government for all sorts of grand things. H.L. Mencken, the great libertarian journalist and close observer and critic of presidents, compared him to the German kaiser, Wilhelm II, and shrewdly summed him up: “The America that [Theodore] Roosevelt dreamed of was always a sort of swollen Prussia, truculent without and regimented within.”

Particularly fascinating to Franklin must have been the way TR was able to turn his patrician background to his advantage. After all, in the past, the Americans had shown themselves wary of upper-class leaders, who were suspected of being insufficiently “democratic” and not in tune with the people. What TR did brilliantly was to introduce caesarism into American politics. This term refers to the political strategy adopted by Julius Caesar to gain power. Although himself from a wealthy and high-born family, Caesar castigated his fellow patricians and appealed instead to the lower classes for support. They, in turn, loved the favors they received from on high, and, perhaps even more, the sight of Caesar trouncing and humbling his fellow blue bloods.

Julius Caesar was thus one of history’s great demagogues; and ever since his time the tactic of a politician from society’s elite pandering to the “have-nots” against the upper classes has been known by his name. In fabricating his persona as the great “trustbuster,” Theodore Roosevelt’s form of American caesarism proved wildly successful.


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New Deal Quotes. QuotesGram

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Agriculture Is Only a Tiny Part of America’s Economy — And That’s a Good Thing | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on July 17, 2019

A century later, 3 million were employed on farms, while the USDA employed 105,000 workers. This increase in agency size represents the Federal government’s increasingly regulatory stance in the US economy.

For decades, politicians and pundits in political media alike have said that the American farming and ranching industries are vital to our nation and must be protected from “unfair” competition and the threat of going out of business. This belief often materializes in the form of legislative or executive action undertaken by the government.

The federal government has long sought to promote the health of these industries, employing pro-farming policies since the days of FDR’s New Deal. These programs survive to this day, being expanded from their initial scope or their original sentiments reimposed through new acts of Congress. Strangely enough, this bureaucratic expansion occurs despite American agriculture output declining over the course of America’s existence.

Output Declines, Government Grows

Since 1900, the number of American farms in operation has fallen 63 percent. In 1930, agricultural GDP as a share of total GDP sat at a sizeable 7.7 percent — by 2002, agricultural GDP as a share of total GDP was a mere 0.7 percent. This 7 percent decrease signals the adoption of a new role in the world economy by the US.

The US now imports a large percentage of the fresh vegetables and produce it sells — while in 1975 the proportion of fresh fruit sold in the United States that was imported was 23 percent, it reached 51.3 percent in 2016.


Source: New York Times

Domestic vegetable and fruit producers are being supplanted in the market by producers from countries such as Argentina, Chile, and Mexico. The City University of New York’s Urban Food Policy Institute reports: “…since the NAFTA Trade Agreement in 1994, U.S. consumption of tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, limes, berries, avocados and mangos imported from Mexico is way up and still rising.”

Clearly, increased trade is impacting America’s agriculture sector. Surely then, the government’s relationship with the industry must be changing as well. Logic would suggest that the USDA and its subordinate agencies are laying off employees and reducing their size and scope in response to the decline of America’s beloved industry.

In reality, this is not the case. In 1900, 11 million Americans were employed on farms and 2,900 employed by the USDA. A century later, 3 million were employed on farms, while the USDA employed 105,000 workers. This increase in agency size represents the Federal government’s increasingly regulatory stance in the US economy.

Agriculture’s Death is Good News

How could an industry’s death spell prosperity for a nation? While the number of people employed in farming and similar occupations dwindled from 11 million in 1900 to 2.6 million in 2017, employment in STEM (science, technology, engineer, and math) occupations has grown 79 percent between 1990 and 2016 — increasing from 9.7 million to 17.3 million. The US economy is transitioning away from producing in primary and secondary level industries like agriculture and related enterprises such as food processing and packaging.

The reduction in the number of people employed in agriculture and related jobs shows that America is actually abandoning low paying jobs. Compared to STEM jobs, occupations in the primary or secondary sectors of the economy tend to pay a very low wage. Farm hands and field laborers, who are often poor immigrants, are paid below minimum wage to perform tasks that take a significant toll on their bodies. Difficult manual labor poses both short-term and long-term risks to workers’ health, compared to the almost complete lack of health detriments presented by jobs in STEM fields. These agricultural jobs tend also to be seasonal. Workers will only have a secure source of income for between 3 and 6 months per year, depending on where they work, due to the fact that crops cannot be grown year round.

As the economy sheds the last remnants of its agricultural-centric past, new jobs are being created in new industries at a rapid pace. Occupations in the tertiary and quaternary sectors are far more beneficial to society and individuals, as they provide higher wages, a more stable source of income, and employment year round. In a bid to attract workers to fill positions, companies often offer benefits such as childcare and healthcare plans as part of an offer of employment. It is very obvious that we should seek to employ as many people as possible in tertiary and quaternary sector industries.

Primary and secondary products will never lose value. Humans will always have a need to consume agricultural products and build devices and structures from raw materials that are finished through secondary sector activities. As the US economy begins to be largely constructed of tertiary and quaternary economic activities, these lower-level processes will simply be outsourced to less developed countries.

Outsourcing: Oppression or Opportunity?

Since their ideology became a force in the mainstream a decade ago, the rallying cry of political leftists has been to stand for those being oppressed, exploited, or victimized by the status quo. The advancement of technology has meant that industrialization, combined with other factors, has left certain nations behind. Third world economies are not nearly as developed as their first world counterparts, with a bulk of their economic activity taking place in the primary and secondary sectors. These leftists take an anti-trade stance, positing that the outsourcing of production to less developed nations is capitalistic exploitation.

“Exploitation” Actually Benefits All Parties Involved

While it is true that a business owner may outsource simple manufacturing processes to countries where they may hire workers at cheaper wages, it is also true that the workers hired benefit from this self-interested move. The reason workers choose to work in these plants and industries is that they provide the best possible way to make money to the worker. If a corporation goes to a less developed nation and is able to hire 5,000 workers to work for them, it means that the firm is now offering the best employment opportunity in the country to 5,000 workers. Prior to the company’s arrival, laborers were likely making less money than they now do and working in worse conditions. Otherwise, why would they choose to work for the new company? Their condition has obviously been improved by the opening of a plant by a foreign capitalist…

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economics | The Rule of Freedom



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The “Green New Deal” Debunked (Part 1 of 2) | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on January 27, 2019

There’s a growing buzz around a “Green New Deal,” spearheaded by newly-elected Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Although the details are in flux, currently the draft text calls for the creation of a 15-member “Select Committee for a Green New Deal” that would “have authority to develop a detailed national, industrial, economic mobilization plan” to make the U.S. economy “greenhouse gas emissions neutral.” As if that weren’t ambitious enough, the Select Committee’s detailed national plan would also have the goal “to promote economic and environmental justice and equality.” The draft specifically mentions spending $1 trillion over ten years, in addition to extensive taxes and regulations to steer the economy and society as the 15 committee members see fit. (To be clear, the draft text currently calls for the creation of the select committee, which in turn is then tasked with drafting legislation forming the “Green New Deal” itself.)

In this two-part series I will strongly critique both the spirit and substance of a proposed “Green New Deal.” In the second article, I will focus on the specific proposals in the draft legislation. But in this first piece I will give the historical context and explain why the very notion of a Green New Deal is misguided, because it relies on faulty history and bad economics.

The Original New Deal Was Implemented During the Great Depression

Perhaps the most obvious flaw with anyone proposing a modern-day New Deal—whether green or any other hue—is that we are not currently in the midst of an economic depression. Even textbook Keynesians, who think that (say) the incoming Obama Administration was justified in administering a large “stimulus package” because we were stuck in a so-called liquidity trap, now admit that there is no economic rationale for continuing to run large budget deficits. (As Paul Krugman notoriously and conveniently wrote soon after the election of Trump, “Deficits Matter Again.”)

The very term “New Deal” was chosen to appeal to the 20%+ of the unemployed in the workforce, who had ostensibly been left behind by the traditional U.S. economic system. Yes, Ocasio-Cortez and her supporters are touting the Green New Deal as (among other things) the solution to lingering economic inequities in the current system. But to call concern over a wage gap a “New Deal” is as inapt as christening a bullet train program a “Green Moon Shot.”

The New Deal Actually Hurt the U.S. Economy and Prolonged the Great Depression

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There May Have Been No Iron Curtain if FDR Hadn’t Provoked Japan into War

Posted by M. C. on April 13, 2014

Chronicles magazine recently had a piece by Taki on the hubbub over the Japanese prime minister visiting their WW II memorial. Taki’s point was mostly what SOBs FDR and Truman were. Firebombing women and children and dropping the bomb. We were as bad as anyone else.

It was cause to recall the book I recently finished – “Back door to War” by Charles Tansill. This deals with the shenanigans that passed for diplomacy leading up to FDR’s intentional US entry in WW II.

The best 2500 Nook sized pages of history I never learned in government school.

What left the greatest impression was the fear Japan had regarding communist expansion in China. Read the rest of this entry »

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Desperate Deception-Lying Government and its Media Puppets, the Prequel

Posted by M. C. on January 11, 2014

Desperate Deception by Thomas Mahl

Churchill, fearing Britain was on the losing end of the WW II stick, knew they would be  home free with the US in the war.  I am not entirely sure what FDR’s motives were but concern for Britain and later “Papa Joe” (FDR’s pet name) Stalin were high on his list.

There is a quote from C. Wright Mills’ “The Power Elite”

The United States…was controlled not by the mass of its citizens as described by democratic theory, but by a wealthy Anglo-Saxon Protestant elite from Ivy League schools…

Many of that elite Wright speaks of belonged to Skull and Bones.  Many of the sir names will sound familiar even to todays low information voter.

British secret service ran a propaganda machine out of Rockefeller Center, rent free courtesy of Nelson Rockefeller, with the full knowledge and encouragement of FDR.  Just a few of the willing accomplices were Drew Pearson, Walter Lippmann, Walter Winchell and the New York Herald Tribune. Read the rest of this entry »

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