210 Comments

Benson, Eisenhower, and Communism

I’m not sure why President Benson is so popular lately.  Will at Wheat and Tares asked, Were President Benson’s Words Prophetic? In Sunday’s Salt Lake Tribune, FBI files shed light on Ezra Taft Benson, Ike and the Birch Society.  In July, I promised to talk about President Benson’s politics, and I guess the timing is right; I’m finally getting back to that post.

R Gary runs a blog called No Death Before the Fall, and I was surprised that my comment was censored by him.  Well, here we can talk about things a bit more freely than R Gary allows.  (All comments must be approved by him prior to publishing them, unlike my blog that publishes comments immediately.  I’m not afraid of disagreement, unlike R. Gary, so long as it remains civil.)

There are quite a few Latter-day Saints that view President Benson as a political hero.  Many love to quote President Benson’s “Constitution hanging by a thread” quote.  The Tribune even says that Benson is one of the inspirations for the current Tea Party movement.  I think R. Gary is similar to most “Bensonites”.  They are intensely conservative, and don’t think anything that the politician Ezra Taft Benson said or did was wrong.  Let me quote R Gary’s point of view in this comment:

Benson never saw anything wrong with civil rights, only with some of what was being done in the name of civil rights.

Well, that does seem to fly in the face of the title of Benson’s book, ” Civil Rights, Tool of Communist Deception.”  It’s out of print, but you can click on a link at Amazon to see if they can get if for the Kindle.

Let me say that I love President Benson as a prophet.  His encouragement to read the Book of Mormon was inspired counsel.  But, I’m not a big fan of Ezra Taft Benson the politician (and neither were several of the General Authorities, especially Elder Hugh B. Brown.)  I’d like to discuss a few things here that R. Gary doesn’t want to address.  There were some really incendiary comments where Benson accused certain people, such as Martin Luther King Jr, of being part of a communist conspiracy.  Greg Prince outlines some of these quotes in his David O McKay biography.  From page 92, Prince quotes the “Minutes of Council Meeting, November 4, 1965” for the following quote:

Elder Benson said he shared the feeling of the Brethren who had expressed themselves on this question, that he was confident in his own mind from a study he had made of the Negro question that we are only seeing something being carried out today that was planned by the highest councils of the communist party twenty years ago, and that Martin Luther King is an agent, if not a power in the Communist party.  He said that this whole thing is being directed and supported and promoted by agents of the Communist party, that the Negroes are being used in this whole question of Civil Rights, integration, etc., and that the NAACP are largely made up of men and women who are affiliated with from one to a dozen communist-front organizations, and he thought they would do anything in their power to embarrass the Church.

So does anyone still believe the Civil Rights movement is a Communist Conspiracy, or that MLK was a communist?

Many people like to trumpet the fact that Ezra Taft Benson served as Secretary of Agriculture from 1953-1961 while simultaneously serving as an apostle. From the Tribune article, it is apparent that Benson thought Eisenhower was soft on communism, which seems startling to me considering the fact that Ike was General Eisenhower prior to becoming President Eisenhower.  Additionally, Ike took some pretty serious blowback when Gary Powers plane was shot down while spying over the Soviet Union.

The John Birch Society (named after an American Baptist missionary and U.S. military intelligence officer killed by communist forces in China in August 1945) was founded by Robert Welch in 1958.  It was a virulently anti-communist society; Benson was not a member, but was a strong advocate.  Prince details many efforts by the society to enlist Benson as a member.  President McKay denied every request.  I liked Prince’s summary on page 279,

Throughout his long tenure as a General Authority, David O. McKay was consistently opposed to Communism.  So, uniformly, were his fellow General Authorities.  Ironically, once he had become president of the church, opposition to Communism became a seriously divisive issue among the Mormons.  On the one hand, McKay gave his special blessing to Ezra Taft Benson as an opponent of Communism, enabling this strong-willed apostle to propagate his ultra-right-wing views among church members–views that included an endorsement of the John Birch Society, founded in Indianapolis, Indiana on December 9, 1958, by Massachusetts candy maker Robert Welch.  On the other hand, McKay also responded to General Authorities who, despite their own opposition to Communism, took exception to the extremism of Benson and the John Birch Society.  These included Apostles Joseph Fielding Smith and Harold B. Lee, as well as Hugh B. Brown and N. Eldon Tanner, McKay’s counselors in the First Presidency.  Neither Benson nor his protesting colleagues among the apostles ever achieved a clear upper hand with the aging prophet.  As a result, both Latter-day Saints who endorsed the extreme views of the John Birch Society and those who opposed them found reason to believe the prophet was on their side, and the divisive issue remained unresolved until McKay’s death in 1970, when his successor, Joseph Fielding Smith, effectively silenced Benson on the subject.

I admit that I’ve know Benson was tied to the John Birch Society, but I didn’t know much.  Prince describes a bit of detail on page 286.

In December 1958, a Massachusetts candy maker, Robert Welch, founded a right-wing extremist organization that took up where Joseph McCarthy left off in attacking Communism to target civil rights and government in general, proclaiming that “the greatest enemy of man is, and always has been, government; and that larger and more extensive that government, the greater the enemy.”37 Welch named the organization after an American soldier, John Birch, who was killed by Chinese Communists ten days after the end of World War II.  Within a year, Ezra Taft Benson had a close relationship with one of the society’s national leaders.  During 1961 he became personally acquainted with Welch,38 and the two men’s political agendas quickly aligned.

Benson tried to tie Socialism to Communism.  On October 1961 General Conference, Benson said (noted on page 287 of Prince’s book),

“Communism is fundamentally socialism.  We will never win our fight against communism by making concessions to socialism.  Communism and socialism, closely related, must be defeated on principle….No true Latter-day Saint and no true American can be a socialist or a communist or support programs leading in that direction.”42

The conflict between Benson and moderate church leaders, particularly Hugh B. Brown, was tactical rather than strategic.  “Certainly all of us are against Communism,” Brown wrote to a personal correspondent in 1961.  But that end did not justify certain means, and he was overtly critical of the means of the John Birch Society:

The Church has not taken any stand officially relating to these various groups who nominate themselves as guardians of our freedom, except in the case of the John Birch Society, and we are definitely against their methods….We do not think dividing our own people, casting reflections on our government officials, or calling everybody Communists who do not agree with the political views of certain individuals is the proper way to fight Communism.  We think the Church should be a modifying, steadying institution and our leaders, or even members, should not become hysterical or take hasty action.43

Prince describes some discussions between Brown, Benson, and McKay.  From page 288,

Brown pointed out one consequence for church members of Benson’s broad-brush attack: “All the people of Scandinavia are under Socialistic governments and certainly are not Communists.  Brother Benson’s talk ties them together and makes them equally abominable.  If this is true, our people in Europe who are living under a Socialist government are living out of harmony with the Church.”45

Prince continues to discuss differences of opinions regarding the John Birch Society.  The Society continued to make extreme statements–even calling former president Eisenhower a “tool of the Communists”.  Amazingly, Benson did not refute the statement.  From page 295,

Welch had recently published a book, The Politician, in which he accused Dwight Eisenhower of being a tool of the Communists:  “On January 20, 1953, Dwight Eisenhower was inaugurated as the thirty-fourth President of the United States.  He thus became, automatically and immediately, captain and quarterback of the free-world team, and in the fight against Communism.  In our firm opinion he had been planted in that position, by Communists for the purpose of throwing the game.”75 Asked if he agreed with Welch’s statement, Benson sidestepped the question, refused to defend Eisenhower, and stated merely that Eisenhower “supported me in matters of agriculture.  In other areas we had differences.”76

Say what?  This is mind boggling to me.  Democratic Mormon Congressman Ralph Harding from Idaho condemned Benson in Congress a few days later.  Harding supported the current Republican President Eisenhower.  Prince states that reactions to Harding’s comments were mixed.  President Eisenhower sent Harding an appreciative letter.  On page 297,

I am grateful for your letter and for the speech that you made in Congress concerning the support and encouragement that the former Secretary of Agriculture, Ezra Benson, has allegedly been giving to a Mr. Welch, said to be the founder and leader of the John Birch Society.  Your honest and unselfish effort to set the record straight is something that warms my heart.

Frankly, because I rarely read such trash as I understand “The Politician” to be, I had never before read the specific accusations made against me by Robert Welch.  But it is good to know that when they were brought to your attention you disregarded all partisan influences to express your honest convictions about the matter.  It is indeed difficult to understand how a man, who professes himself to be an anti-Communist, can so brazenly accuse another–whose entire life’s record has been one of refutation of Communist theory, practice and purposes–of Communist tendencies or leanings.

With my best wishes and personal regard,

Dwight D. Eisenhower81

A year later, when L. Ralph Mecham escorted Ernest L. Wilkinson, then running fo the U.S. Senate, to meet with Eisenhower, the former president again brought up Benson’s actions.  Long afterward, Mecham recalled:

When I took Ernest Wilkinson up to Gettysburg to visit with Eisenhower, I believe in the spring of 1963, to get Eisenhower’s blessing for Wilkinson in his Senate campaign, Ike was almost wistful.  We had a great conversation about many things.  In the course of it he asked us quizzically, “Whatever happened to Ezra?” or something like that.  The implication was clear.  He could not understand, I believe, why a man to whom he had been so loyal had not reciprocated that loyalty but instead had adopted the extremist views of the John Birch Society.82

On page 298, Prince states,

Benson’s actions put McKay in a dilemma.  On the one hand, McKay was uncomfortable with the rising tide of criticism directed at Benson, both from church members and from national media.  On the other hand, McKay thought highly of Benson, prized his intense loyal support, and shared his deep visceral disdain for Communism.  While Benson’s tactics occasionally caused embarrassment and distress for McKay, neither man every questioned the goal.

Less than a month after the Robert Welch dinner McKay called Benson to preside over the European Mission, which meant that Benson would be out of the country (and out of the spotlight) for two years.  McKay gave Benson the news privately, and the accounts that both men left of the meeting show that it was upbeat, with no hint that Benson was being “punished” or “exiled.”

Regardless of McKay’s intent, however, the move was widely seen as a rebuff to Benson’s political activism, in spite of the fact that four other General Authorities–Mark E. Peterson, N. Eldon Tanner, Marion D. Hanks, and Alvin R. Dyer–had presided over missions in Europe within the previous three years.  The same day that McKay met with Benson, one of McKay’s sons expressed such a sentiment in a letter to Congressman Harding: “We shall all be relieved when Elder Benson ceases to resist counsel and returns to a concentration on those affairs befitting his office.  It is my feeling that there will be an immediate and noticeable curtailment of his Birch Society activities.”85 Two weeks later, Harding received a letter from Joseph Fielding Smith, president of the Quorum of the Twelve, that conveyed a similar message: “I think it is time for him and for the church and all concerned, if he would settle down to his present duties and let all political matters take their course.  He is going to take a mission to Europe in the near future and by the time he returns I hope he will get all the political notions out of his system.”86

Reaction in the press was mixed.  The church-owned Deseret News reported the story with a benign headline, “Elder Benson to Direct European Mission,” while the story ran in the Ogden Standard-Examiner under the provocative headline: “Apostle Benson Denies Being Sent into ‘Exile’ for Political Views.”87 The National Observer attempted a balanced perspective over the John Birch Society Campaign”:

The Benson connection with the John Birch Society has created somewhat of a “schism” in the Mormon Church.  To a few Mormons, Birch philosophies appear to coincide with church doctrine….But to others, especially those in the liberal Republican and Democratic ranks, the John Birch Society still meant political extremism, and they began asking for Ezra Taft’s scalp….When the elder Benson received his new assignment to Europe many of his critics said the Mormon Church was “shipping out Benson to get rid of him.”  But to this charge, the former Secretary of Agriculture declared: “Ridiculous–members of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles are subject to call anywhere in the world at any time.  That’s our job, and I welcome the call with all my heart.”  President McKay, who called Mr. Benson on this mission also termed the charge ridiculous.  He, too, said the mission was a routine church assignment for a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles.88

On the eve of his departure for Europe, Benson stirred up yet more controversy.  On December 13, he delivered a farewell speech in Logan, a third of which was either a direct quotation or paraphrase from Robert Welch’s manifesto, The Blue Book.  Particularly inflammatory was a direct quotation from The Blue Book, that was given wide publicity in a subsequent article by nationally syndicated columnist Drew Pearson.89 Benson charged that the United States government was so infiltrated with Communists that the American people “can no longer resist the Communist conspiracy as free citizens, but can resist Communist tyranny only be themselves becoming conspirators against established government.”90

Prince discusses even more dialogue supporting/excoriating Benson.  From page 302,

In May 1963, Louis Midgely, a faculty member in Brigham Young University’s Political Science Department, published a scalding article in the student newspaper that again fanned the flames of controversy:

I have been asked by the Editor at the Daily Universe to make some comments on the John Birch Society.  It is difficult to believe that anyone at a university–anyone who reads and thinks–would take such a movement seriously….The man who wrote The Politician did so to inform his followers that former President Eisenhower was a communist.  Of course he provides no evidence but the usual collection of garbage.  For absurdity, the charge against Ike would have to be placed next to the belief, as far as I know, held by no one, that President McKay is secretly Catholic.  What Welch-Birch really wants is to return to a world without taxes, the U.N., labor unions, racial minorities demanding some kind of legal equality; Birchers want a world without fluoridation, the Soviet Union, large cities and emerging nations and all the rest that goes with our world.”98

The most interesting part of the story of Benson was his foray into presidential politics, and the conundrum among the Brethren as to whether to support Benson or popular Michigan governor George Romney, father of Mitt Romney and brother-in-law to then current apostle Marion G. Romney.  I hadn’t realized that Benson might actually run for U.S. president.  From page 315,

McKay’s attention was deflected momentarily from the John Birch Society by another of Benson’s political initiatives: his proposed candidacy for U.S. president.  Months earlier, Benson had presented to McKay a rather nebulous plan whereby he and Senator Strom Thurmond would press the Republican Party for reforms, with the intent of forming a third party if they were not successful.  That plan, however, had not included presidential aspirations.  In mid-April 1966, Benson met with McKay and described  “The 1976 Committee,” to be composed of 100 prominent men from throughout the country, which proposed to nominate Benson for president and Thurmond for vice president.  McKay repeated his resistance to forming a third party, to which Benson replied that he also was “opposed to this, but this Committee and movement might result in a realignment between the two political parties.”  McKay responded “that this nation is rapidly moving down the road to soul-destroying socialism, and that I hoped and prayed that the efforts of the 1976 Committee would be successful in stemming the tide.”  He told Benson “to let them go ahead and wait and see what develops.”  Benson presented him with proposed statements that he and McKay might make if the committee moved as planned to propose his nomination, to which McKay agreed.  McKay’s statement ended with the words “his doing so has my full approval.”143

Benson’s bid for president of the United States ran out of momentum and was discontinued a year before the 1968 political conventions.  Still it placed McKay in the awkward position of trying to maintain political neutrality toward one Mormon presidential candidate who genuinely was a serious contender, Michigan Governor George Romney, while at the same time endorsing the candidacy of Benson, who was never regarded as a serious candidate.  A lengthy article in the Wall Street Journal noted the dilemma, pointing out that Benson “obtained from David McKay, the 92-year old prophet and president of the Mormon Church, an unpublished letter giving full approval to any campaign that Mr. Benson might make….’What Benson is doing could rend the church,’ says a Western governor, ‘and that would be bad for the West.'”143

…[from page 321]

Benson’s political activism diminished abruptly upon McKay’s death, for he lost his patron and protector.  McKay was succeeded by Joseph Fielding Smith and subsequently, Harold B. Lee, both of whom had strongly objected to Benson’s political activities during McKay’s presidency.  A comparison of Benson’s talks before and after McKay’s death attests tot he effectiveness in curtailing his political extremism.

I am sure that there are some ardent supporters of President Benson’s politics.  What do you make of his accusations about Martin Luther King and President Eisenhower being tools of the Communists?

210 comments on “Benson, Eisenhower, and Communism

  1. I fear, however, that we are remembering only half of what President Benson actually said. What he said was: “The Book of Mormon brings men to Christ through two basic means.” Two basic means. Two. “First, it tells in a plain manner of Christ and His gospel” and so forth as quoted above. But what about the second half of his message? It is, after all, the same talk, the same bringing men to Christ:

    “Second, the Book of Mormon exposes the enemies of Christ. It confounds false doctrines and lays down contention. (See 2 Ne. 3:12.) It fortifies the humble followers of Christ against the evil designs, strategies, and doctrines of the devil in our day. The type of apostates in the Book of Mormon are similar to the type we have today. God, with his infinite foreknowledge, so molded the Book of Mormon that we might see the error and know how to combat false educational, political, religious, and philosophical concepts of our time….

    “The situation in the world will continue to degenerate unless we read and heed the words of God and quit building up and upholding secret combinations, which the Book of Mormon tells us proved the downfall of ancient civilizations.” (Ensign, Jan 1988, p.3.)

  2. Ezra Taft Benson taught that secret combinations include large-scale political conspiracies. His focus on the Book of Mormon included this teaching. Notice how “as Prophet” his published writings use the Book of Mormon to warn about conspiracies:

    “If you use the scriptures as a guide, you know what the Book of Mormon has to say regarding murderous conspiracies in the last day and how we are to awake to our awful situation today (see Ether 8:18-25).” (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, 1988, p.81.)

    “Observe what we are doing to build up the enemy, this totally anti-Christ conspiracy. If we continue on this tragic course … the Lord has warned us in the Book of Mormon of the consequences that will follow (Ether 8).” (Ibid., p.614.)

    “The Book of Mormon warns us that when we see these murderous conspiracies in our midst, we should awaken to our awful situation (see Ether 8:24).” (Ibid., p.660.)

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  3. Ezra Taft Benson gave many political messages during his fifty year ministry, but none was more controversial or persistent than his use of the Book of Mormon to warn about political conspiracies. And in the last talk he personally gave in general conference, he said:

    “Secret combinations lusting for power, gain, and glory are flourishing. A secret combination that seeks to overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations, and countries is increasing its evil influence and control over America and the entire world. (See Ether 8:18-25.)” (Ensign, Nov 1988, p.86.)

    Every individual must decide what he or she will remember about Ezra Taft Benson. But from where I sat, politics was an important and consistent part of his prophetic message.

  4. “Political extremism involves two prime ingredients: An excessively simple diagnosis of the world’s ills and a conviction that there are identifiable villains back of it all. . . . Blind belief in one’s cause and a low view of the morality of other Americans — these seem mild failings. But they are the soil in which ranker weeds take root . . . terrorism, and the deep, destructive cleavages that paralyze a society.”
    (quoting John Gardner, quoting President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Secretary of Health & Welfare)

    — President Hugh B. Brown, First Counselor in the First Presidency, BYU Speech, May 13, 1969

  5. Tara,

    I’m curious for opinions (besides Dan’s) of it. It reminds me a lot of the kinds of attacks used against the TEA parties today. I’m just wondering if they’ve been unfairly vilified.

    What’s wrong with my view? Too harsh for you? You mean to tell me that calling the president of the United States and Supreme Allied Commander of World War II a communist is not too harsh for you? You’d take that seriously but you won’t take my words seriously? Can you see why I may be a little derisive toward your points, Tara?

    I’m not saying that it would mean that there isn’t anything extreme about the group, just that maybe it’s been made out to be much worse than it is.

    Um, no. We don’t have enough words to thoroughly attack the depravity of the John Birch Society which has found a new home in today’s tea party fools.

  6. In other words, R Gary is simply saying that Ezra Taft Benson actually didn’t change at all as a prophet, but found a more…respectable way to say exactly the same thing.

    Steve,

    Why do you think Mormons are more familiar with Ezra Taft Benson’s silly words rather than Hugh B Brown? As a member for 20+ years now, I honestly cannot remember Brown’s words, but Benson’s words are very familiar. Why has Benson’s extremism so strongly pervaded into Mormon culture but Brown’s words have not? Is it because Brown never became prophet, thus elevating his previous words to higher levels?

    Honestly, allowing someone like Ezra Taft Benson to become prophet does not make me trust church leadership very much. There’s something about his words being so ridiculous that smacks in the face of the whole “glory of God is intelligence” belief in our church.

  7. Dan,

    The key is that Benson has had an audience in the church that does exactly what Gary has done — they compile his stuff, write books on it, pass it around and now have advocates like Glen Beck trumpeting his material.

    The one thing to remember about his Presidency is who his counselors were — in particular President Hinckley. He was a gentle force during that time and an extraordinary prophet.

    As Gary indicated above, he is a full-blown conspiracy theorist. What he is trying to avoid saying is that he thinks Eisenhower was controlled by the Communists and they were directed by insiders in the U.S. & Europe (read Jewish bankers). Were are back to that. Sigh.

    For those who want to get caught up in the idea that “secret combinations” are behind all governments, remember a couple points: 1) Benson was caught up in conspiracy stuff for decades. 2) Many of his fellow brethren disagreed vigorously with him, including three future prophets (Joseph Fielding Smith, Harold B. Lee, and Spencer W. Kimball) 3) This view has not played a serious role since his Presidency (can you imagine either Presidency Hinckley or President Monson intimating in General Conference that Obama is controlled by Jewish bankers?).

    President Benson was a person of strong opinions. He did much good. Some of his stuff was just odd. I treat the conspiracy stuff like Joseph F. Smith’s statement that man would never visit the Moon.

  8. “We are back to that.”

  9. @Mormon Heretic
    Was, perhaps, but not is.

    I honestly don’t know enough about Eisenhower to be a good judge of that. However, from what I’ve read, I have to say that I believe it is entirely possible that he was, though I am not inclined to say that he was a willing tool if he was one at all. I don’t think it was his intention to be supportive of communism in any way, but I think some of the things he did turned out to be helpful to the cause of communism. He might be correctly characterized as having been soft on communism.

  10. Tara —

    I have to vigorously disagree.

    President Eisenhower was key player in containing the Soviets.

    In his first speech as President he said: “Forces of good and evil are massed and armed and opposed as rarely before in history. Freedom is pitted against slavery, lightness against dark.”

    He appointed as Secretary of State John Foster Dulles who proposed liberating countries from Communism if possible.

    He bolstered the CIA and engaged the KGB and the NKVD throughout Europe and the Third World. The FBI was bolstered to deal with Soviet spying in the US. Under his Presidency the Rosenbergs who had given the atomic bomb to the Soviets were executed.

    He pushed development of the H bomb and built the US missile, submarine and bomber arsenal and implemented the policy of Mutual Assured Destruction (If the US is attacked, we will obliterate the attacker).

    To keep tabs on the Soviets, he authorized spy plan flights over the Soviet Union.

    After the Suez incident, he implemented the Eisenhower Doctrine of providing military & economic aide to any country in the Middle East threatened by international communism or countries supported by the Soviets (that is the basis of US support of Israel).

    He was frustrated when Hungary revolted and US lacked the ability to directly intervene (The Soviets rolled troops & tanks in from neighboring countries and our ability was limited to air drops).

    After Indochina fell, he began the policy of supporting South Vietnam against the Communist North.

    When Castro took over Cuba, he originally reached out to him. But, when it became obvious he was in the Soviet camp, Eisenhower began efforts to undermine him (actually recruiting Cuban dissidents to retake their homeland — the genesis of the Bay of Pigs).

    He held several summits with the Soviet leader, Nikita Khrushchev. Eisenhower saw him as a petty thug but tried to build some bridges. But, that fell apart when the U-2 was shot down over Russia.

    Eisenhower was one of our great generals and Presidents. Ronald Reagan often talked of governing like Eisenhower and returning America’s military strength to that enjoyed in that era.

  11. Eisenhower even fought against democracy in order to push back against communism, taking out Iran’s democratically elected president and reinstalling the shah.

  12. One last point —

    Benson was an Eisenhower cabinet member. Doesn’t anyone find it ironic that he never once provided any direct evidence of Communist control of Eisenhower?

    Surely he overheard Nikita Khrushchev whispering orders in the ears of the President at least once?

    Or, didn’t he see the President in cabinet meetings taking signals from his Communist handler?

    Perhaps Benson was afraid that if he revealed such evidence that the Illuminati would take out his family?

    Or, is it possible, he had no evidence because none existed?

  13. a bigger question, Steve, is why Benson hung around the Eisenhower administration for all eight years. Shouldn’t someone question whether Benson was himself a communist tool?

  14. Dan, I would like to echo your Wow. Like Bishop Rick, I have really learned a lot on this post. Big WOW.

    Tara, Cleon Skousen is a terrible source; resorting to him to back you up is a huge mistake IMO.

    As Steve said, I too vigorously disagree with calling Ike soft on Communism. Ike was one of the best presidents that we had in the 20th century–right there with Reagan, Truman, FDR, and Teddy Roosevelt in my book.

    R Gary, thank you for clearly answering the question. I appreciate the candor ([Eisenhower] was a tool of the secret combination that controls Communism), and I would like to look into your conspiracy theories a bit. Was Pearl Harbor a US Conspiracy too with FDR to blame? Did the US government collapse the World Trade Center? How about George Bush and Al Qaida?

    I’d love to see some proof tying Eisenhower to Communism, but I doubt I’ll see any.

  15. MH: What are you referring to with GHWB and Al Qaida?

  16. Bishop Rick,

    I think MH is asking whether R Gary thinks George Bush was in cahoots with Al-Qaeda, what with giving Al-Qaeda such wonderful public relations gifts as Abu Ghraib and, well, the whole war in Iraq. It’s a legitimate question to ask, if one also asks if Eisenhower was a communist tool. Surely FDR was in cahoots with the Japanese to kill Americans in Pearl Harbor as well.

  17. @Mormon Heretic
    I have to disagree that Skousen is a terrible source. I’ve read a number of his books, both political and religious, and while I don’t necessarily agree with him on everything, I didn’t find that he was too terribly extreme in his views. Extreme to liberals, I can see, but not to conservatives. I don’t understand why he’s been so vilified by so many, both LDS and non-LDS. I can understand disagreeing with him, but I think he’s been unfairly slandered and criticized. And of all the criticisms I’ve read, they are all personal attacks rather than attacks on the substance of his beliefs.

    Regarding Eisenhower, please note that I’m only saying it is POSSIBLE that some of his actions were helpful to the cause of communism. I didn’t say that Eisenhower favored communism or that he didn’t try to oppose and defeat it. Nor did I say or imply that he was a willing tool of the communists.

    Steve mentioned the support of Castro. Yes, Eisenhower eventually opposed Castro, but Pres. Benson tried to warn the State Department that support of Castro could lead Cuba to communism. And of course, that’s exactly what happened.

    In Hungary, we did not give support to the freedom fighters there. President Eisenhower, said ‘I feel with the Hungarian people’ and the secretary of state, John Foster Dulles, said ‘You can count on us.’ The Hungarians took these as signs that the US supported their actions and would come to their aid when needed. However, we were actually only offering moral support with no mention of either military or political intervention. I have a real problem believing that there was nothing we could’ve done to “actually” help them other than just giving them moral support.

    One thing Benson was upset about was Eisenhower’s orders for him to take Krushchev to an agricultural experiment center near Washington. Benson said, “I opposed his coming then, and I still feel it was a mistake to welcome this atheistic murderer as a state visitor.” Now, I doubt that this action gave any significant aid to the communist cause, but what kind of message might it have sent? And what does it say about Eisenhower.

    Fact is, Eisenhower did little to nothing to roll back communism. In fact, it may have even spread during his tenure. Hence, the idea that he may have been soft on communism.

  18. Tara,

    Extreme to liberals, I can see, but not to conservatives. I don’t understand why he’s been so vilified by so many, both LDS and non-LDS.

    His logic is terrible and he did not have any actual evidence to back up his ridiculous claims. In the case of the Naked Capitalist, the author Quigley, from whom Skousen takes his ridiculous claims of a secret cabal, thoroughly debunked the notion that there even exists a secret cabal. Skousen’s claim of a secret group of Jewish bankers who want to rule the world comes from Quigley’s book “Tragedy and Hope” and from no other source! His evidence is nothing but assumptions and circumstantial evidence. And they’re bad assumptions too. He ought to be vilified within the LDS and non-LDS community because he was a power-hungry charlatan belonging to a secret combination (because the John Birch Society fits their own definition of a secret combination to a T, and of course the later Council for National Policy, begun by Tim LaHaye (best known for his Left Behind books), which is one of the ultra secret groups in America. You want secret combinations, Tara? The right-wing is bulging with them. FreedomWorks. Secret Combination. You pick any of the groups that are anonymously funding attacks on Democrats in this last election (and to come in 2012) and they would fit the definition of secret combinations. They are organizations which do not divulge who is behind the money. They meet in secret, and they plot in secret. The left has got nothing on the secrecy of those on the right.

    And of all the criticisms I’ve read, they are all personal attacks rather than attacks on the substance of his beliefs.

    Not true at all. You can read here the thorough smackdown on Skousen’s silly points, without even getting into personal attacks. You’ll note Professor Midgley’s response to Skousen, like for example this:

    The Naked Capitalist is intended to expose a massive, top-secret, Capitalist super-conspiracy. Communism and socialism, we are told, are merely some of the fruit of this Gigantic International Monolithic Network of Total Global Power. Skousen now believes that it is the Capitalists who have been secretly “running the world” for many years, forming “a conspiratorial control center higher and stronger than either Moscow or Peiping.” The Naked Capitalist is intended to strip bare this “Global Establishment” which secretly plans, plots, and conspires to rule the world. Now you have perhaps always thought that the hard-working, money-making Capitalists were the Good Guys in Skousen’s demonology. Nothing could be further from the truth. He believes that “globalism,” “internationalism,” “one-worldism,” and ruthless centralized dictatorship are what the Capitalist demons have in mind. They only use communism to achieve these goals.

    ….

    Much of what Skousen claims to have found in Quigley’s book is simply not there. There are numerous places in The Naked Capitalist in which Skousen (1) asserts something about Quigley but then inadvertently reveals that he completely misunderstands Quigley’s remarks; (2) simply invents fantastic ideas and attributes them to Quigley; or (3) makes inferences from Quigley’s book that go far beyond the bounds of honest commentary.”

    Exactly spot on. He adds:

    Has Cleon Skousen simply invented the utterly false, paranoid view of politics and history advanced in The Naked Capitalist? Carroll Quigley informs me that for over two years the John Birch Society and other radicals have been busy distorting the contents of his Tragedy and Hope in order to support their own paranoid fantasy about a super-conspiracy behind the multitude of evils in the world today. Skousen has bought without question the dogma of the Birchers and other radicals. He is now busy using his rhetorical powers to charm and flatter Church members into accepting the dogmas of his conspiracy cult. He has made an accommodation between the gospel of Jesus Christ and, of all things, a vain and wholly absurd worldly ideology. The immediate result of Skousen’s activity is a kind of radical cult within the Church. He and his friends make every effort to teach their radical political dogmas as if they were truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

    The Lord has warned the Saints to avoid secret combinations (see Ether 8:19, 22-6); we are not told to start our own secret combination to counter the evils we see or think we see in the world. We are not to follow the pattern set by this world; our politics should be of an entirely different kind; our Kingdom is not of this world. We are not commissioned to win this world for the Lord by joining some seedy and unseemly political mass movement like that offered by the New Left or the Radical Right. No conspiracy, not even a Skousen-type Super-Conspiracy, can possibly frustrate the Kingdom of God; the Saints need not fear the corruption of this world if they keep their eyes and hearts on the Master. Brigham Young gave us some good advice as to how we as partakers in the Lord’s priesthood should deal with political questions: “Let no Religious test be required or the Holy influence and Power of the Priesthood be brought to bear in any Political question. If the inherent merits of all such matters will not furnish argument sufficient for all necessary purposes, then let them go; for it is better that the whole Political fabric, corrupt as we know it to be, should totter and go to destruction, than for our Saints to be offended.” Brigham Young warned us not to permit the trivial matter of this world’s politics to influence us in the least and added: “and never, no never! no never!! again drag Priesthood into Political gentile warfare.” (Letter, July 20, 1849.) In spite of such prophetic warning the conspiracy cult thrives.”

    and

    Quigley tells us that the title of his book points to the tragedy of war and the hope that mankind will turn from hatred to Christian love and thereby learn to live with others with whom we differ (see pp. 131Off.). Unless we begin to manifest love, he maintains, we will destroy ourselves in senseless war. This is what he means by the phrase “inclusive diversity.” Therefore he can say “that diverse peoples with diverse beliefs must live together in a single community.” Skousen has pounced on the harmless word “must,” inferring from it that Quigley wants “compulsion, the loss of Constitutional freedoms and deceptive police state tactics,” collectivism, globalism, and “one-world amalgamation of the United States and the Soviet Union.” All these terrible things are inferred from the harmless little word Quigley used to express his belief in the necessity of loving our neighbors.

    ….

    I know the truth of the prophetic warnings against various kinds of radical political activities, including communism and birchism. But there has never been one word from our prophets warning us of Skousen’s myth of a bankers’ conspiracy. Instead, the prophets tell us that we have nothing to fear from the wicked in this world if we hold fast to the iron rod of the gospel. But that involves not following Skousen-type programs, which fight the worldly wicked with their own tool — hate — rather than return love for the evil that abounds in this world. Obviously, I have placed myself in opposition to such “living prophets” as Robert Welch and many other such pariahs, but that is another matter. Perhaps Skousen accepts such men as “living prophets”; in any case he has certainly attempted to affect an accommodation between their strange message and the gospel of Jesus Christ.

    …. This is a mean game. Wherever Skousen and his disciples are able to spread their cult we see hostile camps, disunity in the Church and loss of conviction in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

    Now, speaking of personal attacks, look who used a personal attack in this case? Why Mr. Skousen of course:

    I have concluded to attribute Midgley’s treatment of my book to an adventure in speed reading. Certainly he is a better scholar than the con- tents of this critique would indicate. He must have written his comments under tremendous pressure and at a time when his sketchy scanning of my book caused him to suffer a trauma of emotional inflammation. I would have preferred to respond to a critique of scholarly, penetrating analysis. That might have been useful to both of us, and I would have welcomed it.
    My greatest disappointment in Midgley is his obvious lack of intellectual curiosity.

    You want examples of sowing contention and the spirit of division? I give you no better example than W Cleon Skousen and his best buddy, Ezra Taft Benson.

    I have a real problem believing that there was nothing we could’ve done to “actually” help them other than just giving them moral support.

    Then you are not well informed when it comes to geo-politics of Europe in the 1950s.

    Fact is, Eisenhower did little to nothing to roll back communism.

    That’s not a fact. That’s an opinion. Tara, you really do need to read up on history from liberal sources. Your conservative sources are secretly eating your brain cells.

  19. Tara, Skousen and Glenn Beck are terrible sources for political analysis.

    It is time to resurrect my Hugh B. Brown post again, Defining Political Extremism.

    Tara, your characterization of Eisenhower is poor. President David O. McKay was absolutely ecstatic that Ike won the election. Was McKay wrong?

    Tara, it is time for me to quote Hugh B. Brown again, especially in relation to your words about President Eisenhower. “Beware of those who feel obliged to prove their own patriotism by calling into question the loyalty of others. Be skeptical of those who attempt to demonstrate their love of country by demeaning its institutions.” Absolutely Brown was talking about the attacks on Eisenhower here. Benson and Skousen should be absolutely ashamed to be associated with these attacks. ASHAMED!!!

    Did you forget that he was the commander of D-Day? Do you think Ike knew a thing or two about war?

    US foreign policy under multiple presidents has been schizophrenic. Let’s look at Iraq for a minute, and compare it to Hungary. First of all, we initially supported Saddaam–after all, Saddaam threw out the Communists in Iraq, so he’s “our” guy. Anything is better than Communism, right? Then he went to war against the Ayatollah of Iran. Anything is better than the Ayatollah, right? Saddaam Hussein attacked a US ship in ~ 1988 with a silkworm missile. Ooops. It must have been a mistake. Saddaam must have thought the US ship was Iranian for some reason, so we’ll help him for the “honest” mistake since he’s fighting the Iranians.

    Now we say we support the Kuwaitis, just like Hungary. Well, Saddaam expects the same to happen. Not so this time, George HW Bush goes into Kuwait and frees the Kuwaitis. There are plenty of people who thought George Bush Sr was soft on Saddaam, and didn’t take him out. The Kurds are fighting in the north. The Shiites are fighting Saddaam in the south. We should support them. But like Eisenhower, Bush didn’t want to bite off more than he could chew. Bush said, “no, we got Kuwait–that was the goal all along. I don’t want to get dragged into an endless war.” Bush acted cautiously, just like Eisenhower in Hungary. Ike knew war better than anybody. He IS the WW2 hero.

    Let’s not forget Afghanistan. The Soviets invade in 1979. We’re against communism, so we boycott the Olympics. We see that Afghanistan borders Iran, and we don’t want the Soviets invading Iran either, even though we hate the Ayatollah, so we support Osama Bin Ladin in Afghanistan. Bin Ladin wears down the Soviets. That’s good, right? Nothing can be worse than Communism. But we don’t know much about Bin Ladin or the Taliban, do we?

    Now Bin Ladin uses the training he learned from us, to bomb the World Trade Center in 1993. But President Clinton sends a few cruise missiles to Afghanistan. That will teach Bin Ladin. But it doesn’t. Bin Ladin is ticked that the towers didn’t come down. For 8 years, he plots again, and this time succeeds.

    Now he has our attention. If Clinton or Gore was president, we wouldn’t have gone after Saddaam, and I’m not sure Clinton would have done more than send a few cruise missiles–that’s what he did the first time. But George W Bush resolves to finish the war his father started in Iraq, even though the World Trade Center was by the Afghans.

    Now, we have the war, the terrible cost of lives that Bush Sr tried to avoid. Was Bush Sr soft on Iraq, or was he prudent? Was Ike soft on Communism, or was he prudent? Ike was prudent. Anyone calling Ike soft on communism doesn’t seem to understand WW2 very well, and that certainly includes Benson and Skousen. I’m afraid it includes you too Tara. You’ve admitted not knowing much about Ike, and turn to Skousen for a source. BAD IDEA.

    Since you don’t know much about Eisenhower, I ask you to look for support on his strategies against communism, such as the Gary Powers Incident, and see if he was more prudent than you’re giving him credit. He didn’t want to rush into war–we’d just been through the hell of war against Japan and Germany. Is America supposed to be the policeman of the world, Tara? Do you really believe that? Do you agree with the calls that Bush Sr was soft on Saddaam? Did Bush Jr’s attack on Iraq prove anything to you? Do we go to war anytime we don’t like someone?

    Why didn’t we go into Somalia–that’s the most lawless place on earth? Why didn’t we go to Serbia, Bosnia, Chechnya? Why didn’t we do more in Libya when Khadafi bombed the Lockerbie jet? What about Rwanda, or Kenya? When are we supposed to go to war Tara–all the time? Should we go after Chavez in Venezuela too? When does it end?

    And I haven’t even mentioned the schizophrenic policies with Manuel Noriega and Panama.

    Tara, Beware of those who feel obliged to prove their own patriotism by calling into question the loyalty of others.

  20. MH,

    Don’t forget that in the 1950s, we had just called an armistice with North Korea over a war that was going nowhere for both sides. The Soviet Union had tested their first nuclear bomb in 1949, before Eisenhower became president. To think we could have used military force behind the Iron Curtain in 1956 is just simply ludicrous.

  21. A couple points:

    * The 1956 Hungarian Revolution — The fundamental problems with the US intervening directly were: 1) Geography — Look at the map. Hungary was not adjacent to any NATO controlled territory. Austria was not aligned nor was Switzerland. All the surrounding states were in the Warsaw Pact. Thus, no direct way to confront Soviet tanks. 2) Soviet tank forces were far stronger than NATOs (that was true even at the end of WWII. 3) The Soviet Union threatened to use nuclear weapons against any power who crossed the Warsaw Pact boundary. So, to intervene, we would have had to risk US troops in a battle they could not win and it could have triggered WWIII. No wonder Ike was frustrated.

    * It is easy to seriously misread the history. The Cuban dictator, Batista, was overthrown. The US initially tried to reach out to him with economic and diplomatic ties. Castro actively embraced communism so Ike went after him aggressively. The shift in policy was over a few months. We certainly didn’t put Castro in power. The only issue was how to react to him in the few months after he seized power.

    * Skousen. Ugh. He was an out-and-out fraud. After being fired as police chief of Salt Lake City (the ultraconservative mayor accused him of repeatedly lying), he started speaking to groups on communism. He claimed that, while in the FBI, he had learned about the inner workings of communism and made the specific claim that he had been one of only two persons in the FBI authorized to speak on Communism. Both were utterly and completely false. He had been a low level administrator and never deal with communism at all. More particularly, he was never authorized to speak on behalf of the Bureau on Communism nor did J. Edgar Hoover even know him. He made up his background! His books are grotesque in their errors — historians literally laugh at them. I think the FBI file calling him someone obsessed with money was spot on. He deceived people for years thinking he was some kind of expert when he was nothing of the kind. He was Paul H. Dunn on steroids.

  22. @Dan
    His logic is terrible and he did not have any actual evidence to back up his ridiculous claims.

    I’m curious, have you actually read any of his books to be able to make such a claim?

    Skousen’s claim of a secret group of Jewish bankers who want to rule the world comes from Quigley’s book “Tragedy and Hope” and from no other source!

    I’ve read the Naked Capitalist, so I am quite familiar with the fact that it is a book review of Tragedy and Hope. But no, Skousen makes no such claim about a secret group of Jewish bankers. Bankers, yes, but he doesn’t single them out as being Jewish and his conspiracy is in no way based in anti-Semitism.

    He ought to be vilified within the LDS and non-LDS community because he was a power-hungry charlatan belonging to a secret combination…

    Sounds like a lot of assumptions and circumstantial evidence there, Dan.

    (because the John Birch Society fits their own definition of a secret combination to a T)

    I’ve seen no solid evidence of this. You and Steve have made such claims, but haven’t shown any proof that this is the case.

    FreedomWorks. Secret Combination. You pick any of the groups that are anonymously funding attacks on Democrats in this last election (and to come in 2012) and they would fit the definition of secret combinations. They are organizations which do not divulge who is behind the money. They meet in secret, and they plot in secret. The left has got nothing on the secrecy of those on the right.

    How are these secret combination? These groups aren’t funding anonymously. I they were, then how does everyone know about them? Where is your proof that they don’t divulge who is behind the money? What you may not understand is that these groups get small donations from the American people. We don’t have a sugar daddy like George Soros who funds all his Democrat front groups. You’re full of crap here, Dan.

    Not true at all. You can read here the thorough smackdown on Skousen’s silly points, without even getting into personal attacks.

    Yeah, I tried to read through that, but I had to quit once I started getting different stories from the authors. Fort said that, “He [Quigley] feels that it would be tragedy for the freeenterprise, constitutional Americans to win. On the contrary he believes that our real hope lies in the victory of the secret operators. Hence the title of his book, Tragedy and Hope.” Midgley said, “If the reader is interested in what Quigley had in mind by the title Tragedy and Hope, he should consult pages 1310ff., for it is there that Quigley explains that the tragedy is the threat of war and the hope is that we will come to practice Christian love.” Two very different meanings there ascribed JUST to the title. And Midgley says that Skousen completely misunderstands Quigley’s remarks? Spot on, Dan? Talk about unreliable sources.

    Fact is, Eisenhower did little to nothing to roll back communism.

    That’s not a fact. That’s an opinion. Tara, you really do need to read up on history from liberal sources. Your conservative sources are secretly eating your brain cells.

    Then show me the facts, Dan. Show me a net rollback of communism during Eisenhower’s term in office. I’ve admitted that I don’t know a lot about this subject. I haven’t made any definite statements nor drawn any definitive conclusions. I’m sharing my thoughts and what I believe are possibilities. I’m not prepared to rule out all the possibilities at this time.

    Oh, and just as an FYI, I mentioned that I read the Naked Capitalist, but I didn’t say that I agreed with it. In fact, I believe I said that I didn’t agree with all of Skousen’s views. You can refer to my previous comment if you doubt me. I can’t get behind the Naked Capitalist, but admittedly, it was a book review and deals primarily in quoted material from the Quigley book. Skousen’s conclusions may have been wrong. I don’t know as I haven’t read Quigley’s book. But in spite of my differences with the Naked Capitalist, I still don’t feel as though that disqualifies Skousen as a credible source.

  23. @Mormon Heretic
    Tara, Skousen and Glenn Beck are terrible sources for political analysis.

    Ummm, yeah, I think you said that already, and I said that I disagreed, about Skousen that is. But do you have any actual proof other than personal attacks on the man?

    Tara, your characterization of Eisenhower is poor.

    Ummm, I didn’t characterize Eisenhower.

    President David O. McKay was absolutely ecstatic that Ike won the election. Was McKay wrong?

    You can be glad that a president won an election, believing and hoping that they will govern well, but that isn’t an indication of what that person will do once they are in office.

    Oh, and while we’re playing prophet cards, I’ve got one for you. President McKay commissioned Skousen to write the Naked Communist. After its completion, McKay got up in General Conference and announced that he wanted everyone to read it. Was he wrong? Have you read the Naked Communist as McKay suggested?

    “Beware of those who feel obliged to prove their own patriotism by calling into question the loyalty of others. Be skeptical of those who attempt to demonstrate their love of country by demeaning its institutions.”

    I haven’t called Eisenhower’s patriotism into question. You can reread my comments and you will notice that I haven’t made any accusations about Eisenhower’s intentions and I’ve also only said that it is POSSIBLE that Eisenhower’s actions were helpful to the communists.

    Did you forget that he was the commander of D-Day? Do you think Ike knew a thing or two about war?

    No, people here keep reminding me of that fact, so it would be a little hard to forget. Commanding an army does not necessarily qualify one to preside over a country. The two jobs are not identical or even similar.

    You’ve admitted not knowing much about Ike, and turn to Skousen for a source. BAD IDEA.

    I didn’t go to Skousen for a source about Eisenhower. Not one iota of information did I get from him about Eisenhower. For the purposes of this discussion, the only information I got from Skousen was about the JBS not being a secretive group, and now everyone is frantically trying to turn me against Skousen. I bet most of you haven’t even ready any Skousen. Anyone?

    Since you don’t know much about Eisenhower, I ask you to look for support on his strategies against communism, such as the Gary Powers Incident, and see if he was more prudent than you’re giving him credit.

    I’ve looked into a number of different sources and different perspectives. I haven’t come down on any side yet, but am presenting an alternative view for the purposes of this discussion in order to try and get more information. Perhaps Eisenhower was just being prudent, but prudence could also be a convenient excuse to not act. Not acting can be just as helpful to the enemy as acting.

    Is America supposed to be the policeman of the world, Tara? Do you really believe that?

    No, but I think that when a country welcomes and perhaps even asks for our help in their struggle to gain or maintain independence, then we have a duty to help them as much as we possibly can. More freedom throughout the world is a positive for our country.

  24. @Steve
    * The 1956 Hungarian Revolution — …So, to intervene, we would have had to risk US troops in a battle they could not win and it could have triggered WWIII. No wonder Ike was frustrated.

    Apparently, there were those who thought we could’ve done more to help, even if it were just politically rather than militarily.

    * Skousen. Ugh. He was an out-and-out fraud….I think the FBI file calling him someone obsessed with money was spot on. He deceived people for years thinking he was some kind of expert when he was nothing of the kind. He was Paul H. Dunn on steroids.

    Have you read any of his books? Do you have any evidence that he was obsessed with money?

    After being fired as police chief of Salt Lake City (the ultraconservative mayor accused him of repeatedly lying)

    Is it possible that the mayor lied about the reasons behind firing Skousen? From what I’ve read, the mayor was gambling in a place when it got raided by Skousen. Maybe the mayor wasn’t too keen on the whole troublesome “rule of law” thing. Skousen’s own words about his being fired as police chief.

    He claimed that, while in the FBI, he had learned about the inner workings of communism and made the specific claim that he had been one of only two persons in the FBI authorized to speak on Communism. Both were utterly and completely false. He had been a low level administrator and never deal with communism at all.

    And it’s not possible that the FBI files were inaccurate for some reason. I mean, it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that there were communist sympathizers in place in the bureau who were instrumental in making sure to discredit Skousen. Even so, have you seen the FBI record to be able to verify these things? I’ve noticed “ernie1241” ALL OVER the internet with the same information being used to discredit Skousen. Someone wants very badly to discredit Skousen, which is very curious to me. I mean, if it’s so obvious from Skousen’s work that he is no expert, and is nothing more than a nut job, then why go to such great lengths to discredit him personally?

  25. @Dan
    I don’t take your opinion seriously because you are contentious and you very rarely take the time to actually understand what I’m saying. You twist my words and meanings. I know you are not going to agree with me even when I say something you agree with, so there really is no point having a discussion with you. My new policy is to occasionally engage you, but mostly ignore you.

  26. Tara,

    Ernie actually posted the actual FBI files on the Birchers and Skousen. They are utterly damning. Of note, neither the Society nor Skousen’s supporters have ever contested the files. They just plain ignore them. Of note, you are the first person I’ve ever seen anywhere claim that official FBI documents are faked.

    The fundamental uncontested fact is that he outright lied about his background with the FBI — and not by a little bit.

    Doesn’t it disturb you on some level that Skousen made up his background?

    This one of the core parts to me (from Ernie’s site citing the FBI documents):

    After termination as Police Chief, Skousen then ran for the Republican nomination for Governor of Utah and his campaign literature included the phrase, “Served his country in the FBI 16 years, 4 of them as Administrative Assistant to J. Edgar Hoover during World War II, a top assignment.” [HQ 67-69602, #287; Bureau file copy notation on outgoing 1/12/61 letter to Mrs. Norman Hartnett, Bakersfield CA mentions his campaign literature.]

    J. Edgar Hoover received numerous inquiries about Skousen’s description of himself. His replies declared that: “For your information, Mr. Skousen did not have the title ‘Administrative Assistant’ while in the FBI” and “In response to your inquiry, I wish to advise that there is no such position in the FBI entitled Administrative Assistant to the Director”. [See for example, Hoover’s 4/19/61 reply to Rev. Harry C. Carlson of La Habra CA which is HQ file 94-47468, serial #28 and his 11/1/61 reply to David A. Moynan Jr., Chairman of Operation Americanism, Jefferson Parish Junior Chamber of Commerce, which is HQ file 94-47468, serial #37 and his April 10, 1962 reply to inquiry by Mrs. A.M. Donaldson of Cardiff CA which is HQ file 94-47468, serial #46.]

    Your embrace of the Naked Capitalist makes me sad (by the way, President McKay liked the Naked Communist, the other book). The bankers you are talking about are Jews. Modern Antisemitism rarely states “The Jews did . . “. The more common approach is “A group of Bankers did . . .” — and they all happen to be Jews. All this stuff goes back to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and the derivatives of it. It is highly, highly racist.

    The Fort(?) quote you use is by a Bircher. It is citing Skousen’s book on a point that isn’t in the book. The Quigley book makes the argument that British elites spend their lives interacting with each other and so are not sensitive to the common man. He also makes the point that they make bad choices sometimes, including some who flirted with Nazism in the 1930s. It is a huge jump from that to a worldwide, all-powerful conspiracy running all of humanity. Yet, that is what Skousen made up.

    I need to tell you a bit about my dealings with Skousen. I’ve met him several times. I was involved in Utah politics for a time. I knew at one point virtually every political figure in the state. To a person, they thought Skousen was a fraud and really nasty. No one attacked him publicly because his supporters were so vicious. I’m not so limited today.

    P.S. I do agree Dan is overplaying his hand above (Sorry, Dan).

  27. A clarification . .

    The two paragraphs beginning “After termination . . .” should have been quotes with a link to Ernie’s cite. I pasted and meant to go back and cite correctly — and forgot to do so.

    A point to consider . .

    Paul H. Dunn made up his life story, told it in public and was shamed.

    Cleon Skousen made up his credentials, repeatedly told it in public and print — and today people (like Glenn Beck) honor him.

    A bit of irony?

  28. Tara,

    I’m curious, have you actually read any of his books to be able to make such a claim?

    Yes.

    But no, Skousen makes no such claim about a secret group of Jewish bankers. Bankers, yes, but he doesn’t single them out as being Jewish and his conspiracy is in no way based in anti-Semitism.

    Of course he’s not going to outright say “Jewish bankers.” No one would take him seriously if he were blatantly anti-semitist. But his rhetoric is straight in line with all previous conspiracy theories regarding international bankers. At their core, all these conspiracies are about Jewish bankers ruling our world. Skousen himself may have been innocent and blameless vis a vis anti-semitism, meaning that if he truly understood what he was saying, he may not have paraded around that silly conspiracy theory, or even gone looking for it where it never existed (Quigley’s book for instance was never about shining light on secret combinations). But the fact that he tied one book to previous anti-semitic conspiracy theories should tell you a hell of a lot about the true nature of Cleon Skousen. It would appear that he really did believe that Jewish bankers were secretly plotting to take over the world. Remember, Tara, Karl Marx was Jewish.

    I’ve seen no solid evidence of this. You and Steve have made such claims, but haven’t shown any proof that this is the case.

    That’s an ironic statement, Tara, because you have no solid evidence of very little either. You have no evidence of Eisenhower being “soft on communism” or even working for communists. And you dare demand strong evidence from me?

    We don’t have a sugar daddy like George Soros who funds all his Democrat front groups. You’re full of crap here, Dan.

    You’re like a babe in this world, Tara. How little you seem to know about right-wing groups. Meet the Koch brothers gazillionaires extraordinaires. They rule your conservative world, Tara. And they work in secret.

    But in spite of my differences with the Naked Capitalist, I still don’t feel as though that disqualifies Skousen as a credible source.

    Every book of his is a piece of crap. He’s a charlatan, Tara. Do you know what that word means? The wikipedia on it is spot on.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charlatan

    That’s Cleon Skousen to a T. That’s Glenn Beck to a T. They are swindlers. They are liars. They ought not to be trusted by anyone with any reasonable cells in their brains.

    I don’t take your opinion seriously because you are contentious and you very rarely take the time to actually understand what I’m saying.

    That’s because you side with silly conspiracy theorists, and I find it laughable that anyone intelligent even bothers with them.

  29. Steve,

    P.S. I do agree Dan is overplaying his hand above (Sorry, Dan).

    No worries. I fought with Connor Boyback and his conspiracy theory group on this issue and it gets tiring that this crap is even taken seriously by God fearing Mormons.

  30. Here’s something rather sick on Cleon Skousen. This is his explanation of how he came to write The Naked Communist:

    “Shortly after we moved to Utah in 1952 and joined the faculty of Brigham Young University, I was asked to give talks on the threat of Communism as I encountered it in the FBI. There were two of us who specialized in this subject and we were the only ones allowed to speak on Communism in case Mr. Hoover could not take the talks himself.”

    He then goes on to say that President McKay told him to write the book.

    As I noticed previously, everything in that paragraph was absolutely and completely false. Skousen never dealt with Communism at the FBI. Moreover, he was never designated by the FBI to speak on Communism.

    His deception was pretty sick.

  31. RNCCritic,

    Here is the data from the 2010 CNN exit poll:

    Of those voting, 40% were conservative, 38% were moderate and 20% were conservative. Yet, even with that favorable electorate, the GOP took about 54% of the vote.

    Why? Moderates broke heavily towards Dems.

    If we lose more than about 25% of the moderates, we lose.

    To win, we must hold the conservatives and make inroads with moderates. If you turn off moderates, you lose.

    I wish it weren’t this way — but it simply is.

  32. MH — please delete this post and the one above. Posting error .. ugh.

  33. Steve, posting error can be ignored. It does look like an interesting discussion you’re having somewhere else. No big deal. Besides, since I’ve made such a big deal about censorship, I’d hate for R Gary to think I’m censoring comments, even if requested.

    Tara, if FBI files on Skousen can be hand-waved away as “personal attacks”, exactly what would you consider legitimate evidence? What does it take for you to believe that Skousen is a bad source for political commentary? Yes, my dad owns “The Naked Communist”. Do you want me to do a book review?

    How is the following a neutral statement about Eisenhower, or his policy on Hungary?

    In Hungary, we did not give support to the freedom fighters there. President Eisenhower, said ‘I feel with the Hungarian people’ and the secretary of state, John Foster Dulles, said ‘You can count on us.’ The Hungarians took these as signs that the US supported their actions and would come to their aid when needed. However, we were actually only offering moral support with no mention of either military or political intervention. I have a real problem believing that there was nothing we could’ve done to “actually” help them other than just giving them moral support.

    —–

    when a country welcomes and perhaps even asks for our help in their struggle to gain or maintain independence, then we have a duty to help them as much as we possibly can. More freedom throughout the world is a positive for our country.

    Ike did help them as much as he felt he could, which admittedly is not much. VietNam wanted us. The Kurds wanted us. There are elements in Iran that want us. Elements in Cuba want us to go in now. Hong Kong wants us. Mongolia wants us. Tianamen Square protestors wanted us. I’ll bet many North Koreans want us. Somalians want us. Rwandans want us. Why don’t we go in these countries? Didn’t you just say it is our duty? Should we stay in Afghanistan long enough so that they can enjoy freedom (a positive for our country), or should we merely try to set up a government that doesn’t allow terrorism? To what extent should we maintain nation building? Because I have a feeling that when we leave Iraq and Afghanistan, they’ll probably both cozy up to the Iranians and won’t have the freedoms that we Americans enjoy. Heck they may cozy up to the Chinese too. Heck they may just continue for the next 1000 years like the past 1000 years and end up with a crappy government with or without anyone’s help.

    Was, perhaps, but not is. Please explain, I don’t understand your intentions by this comment.

  34. A few more questions for you Tara: If Eisenhower had gone into Hungary, and it ended up like Vietnam or Korea (or worse–WW3), would that have been a success? Why are you doubting Eisenhower’s judgment on this? (Your comments about Ike don’t seem neutral to me.)

    I haven’t called Eisenhower’s patriotism into question.

    Yes Tara, but Welch of the John Birch Society said Ike was “throwing the game”, and Benson failed to refute that. That’s calling Ike’s patriotism into question. Skousen seems to see nothing wrong with the Birchers, and you’re quoting Skousen. You asked our opinion. We gave it to you, and you seem surprised.

    If Ike is “throwing the game”, does that seem extreme to you or not? Personally, anybody associated with Welch (of which Benson and Skousen seem to be quite chummy) seems really suspect to me. Do you really think Ike was “throwing the game”? Are such attacks to be ignored and downplayed?

    If you support Skousen/Benson/Welch, then it seems you think the “throwing the game” comment is acceptable. Beware….

  35. Regarding “rarely take the time to actually understand what I’m saying.” (comment #132)

    I feel that way myself sometimes. But I’ve noticed that some people just act like they don’t understand you. Maybe they can’t honestly meet you head on because their counter-argument is weak, or non-existent. So they fashion a strong rebuttal to something you didn’t even say and post that. Bingo. They won. You lost. I think such comments are just cheap, dishonest blogging tricks. Sort of like walking proudly down the street with one’s head held high while wearing the emperor’s new clothes.

    Tara, I think most people understand you just fine.

  36. Heretic: Regarding “Benson failed to refute that.”

    It is clear you have a few bones to pick with Ezra Taft Benson. I think we’re all clear on that. I only hope your disagreements are based on a thorough study of his life and his teachings, not just what others have said about him. You ought to read his official biography, several of the many books actually written by him, and a few dozen of his general conference talks.

    Here’s why I’m saying this: There is a lot of material around that is critical of Ezra Taft Benson. I’ve purchased and read a lot of it myself, including Quinn’s Dialogue article and, more recently, relevant sections of Greg Prince’s McKay biography. But I’ve also read all of his Church books and all of his general conference talks.

    Based on my reading and your writing, I fear your opinions are based primarily on the opinions of others.

    Greg Prince is particularly notorious for creating a misleading picture by leaving out parts of the story. For the past five years, I’ve spent many hours off and on researching just four pages of that 500 page book. Click here to see what I found out.

  37. @MH
    Tara, if FBI files on Skousen can be hand-waved away as “personal attacks”, exactly what would you consider legitimate evidence?

    I’m raising questions. I have a hard time just accepting everything I’m told or everything I read at face value. There is so much untruth in the world, and particularly on the internet, that it isn’t always easy to find the truth. So, I haven’t hand-waved away the FBI files. I’m looking for both sides of the story so that I can make a more informed judgement on the issue. I happen to very much like most of Skousen’s writings that I’ve read and find it extremely hard to believe that he was as bad a man as he is made out to be. How he is portrayed by many flies directly in the face of how many who knew him personally felt about him.

    How is the following a neutral statement about Eisenhower, or his policy on Hungary?

    It wasn’t meant to be neutral. It was meant to raise an alternative point of view.

    Was, perhaps, but not is. Please explain, I don’t understand your intentions by this comment.

    You asked if Eisenhower IS a tool of the communists. He no longer IS because he is dead. I was only making a grammatical correction here. Nothing to be concerned about.

    A few more questions for you Tara: If Eisenhower had gone into Hungary, and it ended up like Vietnam or Korea (or worse–WW3), would that have been a success?

    Vietnam and Korea would’ve looked much differently if they were run differently. They were more political wars than anything. It had nothing to do with our inability to wage those wars. It had everything to do with the will in Washington to actually win them. Much like what’s gone on in the Middle East. We would have no problem winning those wars quickly if it weren’t for all the politics involved.

    Now let’s compare Eisenhower with Reagan. Look at how people doubted Reagan and worried that he was going to start a nuclear war. He didn’t create peace through hand-wringing and capitulation. He created peace through strength. I’m not saying that Hungary was something that we could’ve successfully prevented. I’m only saying that let’s not automatically assume that Eisenhower made the correct move by doing nothing.

    Why are you doubting Eisenhower’s judgment on this? (Your comments about Ike don’t seem neutral to me.)

    Again, they are not meant to be neutral. I’ve admitted that I don’t know much on this subject, but if I just tow the line you give me, there won’t be much discussion and not much will be learned.

    Yes Tara, but Welch of the John Birch Society said Ike was “throwing the game”, and Benson failed to refute that.

    Well, you asked me if I thought Eisenhower was a tool of communism. You didn’t ask me for my opinion of Welch. This discussion to me is not about defending Welch or Benson, at least not directly. It is about defending the position I have taken which differs somewhat from Welch’s and Benson’s. It is a position that I am admittedly taking in relative ignorance, though what I consider to be at least more defensible than Welch’s position which I couldn’t possibly defend given that I haven’t read any of his writings. My approach has been to take a position that I might possibly be able to defend, while at the same time showing that Benson may have had good reasons for taking the positions that he did.

    If Ike is “throwing the game”, does that seem extreme to you or not?

    I think it is an extreme position. But I don’t think that just because a position is extreme that automatically makes it a wrong position without warrant of further investigation.

  38. @R. Gary
    I appreciate the moral support, R Gary. But I really don’t think Dan is acting. I think he’s got it in his head that he has me pegged and doesn’t feel he needs to spend the time trying to understand me. I think you may have hit on some other valid observations though.

    @Steve
    Doesn’t it disturb you on some level that Skousen made up his background?

    If I were entirely convinced that he was, that would bother me. But I haven’t taken a solid position on that yet.

    Your embrace of the Naked Capitalist makes me sad (by the way, President McKay liked the Naked Communist, the other book).

    Can you show me where I embraced the Naked Capitalist in my comments? Perhaps if so many people are misunderstanding what I’ve said, I must not be communicating very well. I thought, however, that I made it entirely clear that I did NOT embrace the Naked Capitalist.

    The Fort(?) quote you use is by a Bircher.

    I wasn’t aware that Fort was a Bircher. Dan linked to a critique of the book and I assumed that they were all critical of the book rather than some critical and some favorable. I noticed that Skousen was included among the reviewers, but it didn’t occur to me that Fort’s review was a favorable treatment of the Naked Capitalist. I admittedly didn’t read carefully with the mistaken assumption that Fort’s review was unfavorable.

  39. Gary,

    I think such comments are just cheap, dishonest blogging tricks. Sort of like walking proudly down the street with one’s head held high while wearing the emperor’s new clothes.

    You’ve just described the typical John Birch member.

    Tara,

    I’m raising questions

    Like Glenn Beck. You’re just raising questions. No harm. Does Obama hate white people? I don’t know. I’m just asking. Are progressives a cancer to American society? I don’t know. I’m just raising questions. Are American liberals secret communist/Nazi/fascists? I don’t know. I’m just raising questions.

    I have a hard time just accepting everything I’m told or everything I read at face value.

    One thing you should learn from this life, Tara, is that the vast majority of people in this world are actually good people, and reasonable, rational people. The vast majority of people view Eisenhower as a decent president and certainly not as a communist tool. There must be a reason for that. And the reason cannot be that the vast majority of people have been brainwashed by a secret combination with the ability to brainwash the views of the vast majority of people.

    I happen to very much like most of Skousen’s writings that I’ve read and find it extremely hard to believe that he was as bad a man as he is made out to be. How he is portrayed by many flies directly in the face of how many who knew him personally felt about him.

    You know, Hitler’s friends liked him very much too.

    It had nothing to do with our inability to wage those wars. It had everything to do with the will in Washington to actually win them.

    yeah, if we just willed ourselves to victory we could have conquered the world.

    Look at how people doubted Reagan and worried that he was going to start a nuclear war. He didn’t create peace through hand-wringing and capitulation. He created peace through strength

    heh, yeah, Reagan willed us to victory, unlike that silly supreme commander Eisenhower who just lacked the will of a TV actor.

    I’m only saying that let’s not automatically assume that Eisenhower made the correct move by doing nothing.

    He didn’t do “nothing” Tara. At least he didn’t sell arms to our enemies, like Reagan. At least Eisenhower never cut and ran from terrorists when they attacked our marines. If you wish to compare Eisenhower to Reagan, I’ve got plenty to destroy Reagan in comparison to Eisenhower. Reagan has nothing on Eisenhower in terms of building up our massive nuclear arms. Do you know when we built most of our nuclear weapons, Tara? Yeah, during the Eisenhower administration. Ronald “Peace Through Strength” Reagan was a child compared to Eisenhower.

    But I don’t think that just because a position is extreme that automatically makes it a wrong position without warrant of further investigation.

    Well, if you doubt the “liberal” education you’ve gotten, where do you think you’ll get the evidence needed to counter the conspiracy theories of Welch and Skousen? Should a biography of Eisenhower do? Or would that be a “biased” source? A history book? Or would that be a “biased” source?

    I think he’s got it in his head that he has me pegged and doesn’t feel he needs to spend the time trying to understand me.

    Prove me wrong. Show me that you don’t side with Skousen’s utterly ridiculous conspiracy theories. Otherwise your points are utterly laughable.

  40. A little bit on Hungary . . .

    On November 4, 1956, over 200,000 Soviet troops and 4,000 tanks invaded the country. The US blasted the Soviet Union and demanded withdrawal. but, the US lacked the ability to take direct military action because of geography.

    President Eisenhower later wrote: “. . . I still wonder what would have been my recommendation to the Congress and the American people had Hungary been accessible by sea or through the territory of allies who might have agreed to react positively to any attempt to help prevent the tragic fate of the Hungarian people. . . . Sending United States troops alone into Hungary through hostile or neutral territory would have involved us in general war. . . . .”

  41. It is interesting to contrast the Hungarian revolution with events in Poland in the 1980s.

    There, Solidarity threatened the communist government with open demonstrations. The Soviets threatened to invade.

    Poland was also landlocked. Th US could not have helped with military force.

    But, Poland had leverage that the Hungarians lack — Pope John Paul II. The pontiff threatened the Soviets that, in the event of invasion, he would fly to Poland and join the people in fighting.

    That paused the Soviets. Their response was to attempt to assasinate the Pope.

    Unfortunately, Hungary lacked a similar shield.

  42. @MH
    What does it take for you to believe that Skousen is a bad source for political commentary?

    An objective commentary would go a long way. As it is, all I read are scathing rebukes or fawning appraisals, and nothing in between. It’s hard to be objective when no one else seems to be.

  43. Tara,

    Here is a rather interesting analysis of Skousen’s book “The 5,000 Year Leap”. Pay particular attention to the quote from the professor at Arizona State: http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/viewpoints/articles/2010/09/19/20100919w-cleon-skousen-glenn-beck-con.html

    The article gives repeated examples of Skousen’s sloppy scholarship. My favorite is his use of a letter from Benjamin Franklin to his son with the following quote: ” Marriage is the proper remedy. It is the most natural state of man and therefore the state in which you are most likely to find solid happiness.”

    Skousen cites the quote to illustrate the Founder’s belief in the importance of family life. What he forget to point out (I identified the quote when reading from my own reading from Franklin) is that it is a letter to his son on the general topic of how to pick a mistress. The quote is ironic — certainly not reflective of Franklin’s devotion to family.

    When I was younger I attended several Skousen seminars. The were an absolute joke. They were designed for folks who had never read the Federalist Papers or any other primary source.

    My favorite was the general topic of the Federal Reserve. Skousen and his ilk claim that the Fed was opposed by the Founders, usually citing Jefferson’s famous quote on the dangers of a national bank. But, do you know who wanted a national bank like the Fed? Alexander Hamilton! He wrote extensively on it. Claiming that the Founders opposed Fed-like institutions is ridiculous.

    The most simplistic aspect of Skousen’s analysis was a general theme that the Founders as a group believed this or that. In reality, they squabbled like cats and dogs. On almost every single issue, there was considerable dissent. That is why you see so many compromises like dual Houses, counting slaves for representation, the phase-out of slavery, original opposition to a bill of rights, and language that many times is just plain vague. Many of them hated each other. Some were pretty profane and irreligious. None of them really liked the Constitution. They all saw it is the best they could cobble together.

    Still, they did a remarkable job in crafting an outline that has lasted this long. That they agreed on anything is the true miracle.

  44. R Gary, the bones I have to pick are with you. You don’t answer questions, but rather put links to your blog which still don’t answer the questions. You censor comments, and do “whitewash” Benson’s politics. You censored and made fun of my comment (as seen in this link), so I don’t have much respect for your opinion on anything. You hide behind censorship. If you won’t answer questions directly and keep posting links back to your blog, I’m going to start considering your links as SPAM and removing them. I’ve given you a much longer leash than you gave me, but if you’re going to ignore tough questions, I’m not going to allow you to spread your links here. It’s self promoting SPAM. I’ve probably given your blog more traffic than it’s had in months, but I’d appreciate it if you’d play on a level field and quit ignoring or censoring me.

    As an olive branch, I am interested to hear more about your conspiracy theories, so please let me know some of your current theories on the World Trade Center, Pearl Harbor, Al Qaida etc that I have asked about and you have ignored.

    Tara, with regards to Hitler, I suspect most “objective” histories are going to be scathing rebukes or fawning appraisals (Ahmadinajad). Certain people are a bit polarizing, and I’d put Skousen and Welch in that category. I don’t know exactly what you’re looking for when you say “objective.” If the FBI files turn out correct, would that damage Skousen’s credibility with you? Do you need to personally go to FBI headquarters and examine the Skousen documents before you’d consider this as “objective” evidence? I mean what really does it take before it can be considered legitimate (or objective) and not a “personal attack”?

    Welch said Ike was “throwing the game.” You said that was extreme. Benson backed Welch, not Ike. Isn’t Benson’s position extreme? Skousen supports the Birchers, as you have linked. If I were Skousen, I’d condemn the “throwing the game” comment in the strongest possible terms, not advocate for the Birchers. How would you react?

    Benson charged that the United States government was so infiltrated with Communists that the American people “can no longer resist the Communist conspiracy as free citizens, but can resist Communist tyranny only by themselves becoming conspirators against established government.” (See footnote 90 mentioned in the original post.)

    Benson called on the people to conspire against the U.S. government, and this on the eve of his mission to Europe. Do you feel that Benson was correct–that the citizens should have conspired against our own government?

  45. @Steve
    Skousen cites the quote to illustrate the Founder’s belief in the importance of family life. What he forget to point out (I identified the quote when reading from my own reading from Franklin) is that it is a letter to his son on the general topic of how to pick a mistress. The quote is ironic — certainly not reflective of Franklin’s devotion to family.

    So, because of Franklin’s lifestyle choices, I’m supposed to be convinced that he was unqualified to comment on the ideal family situation because it differs from what he has chosen? If anything, that seems to me like a very objective opinion to seek. A person can be a sinner and have no qualms about it, yet still be able to recognize that they are not living up to the ideal. I haven’t read the letter you mention, nor the 5000 year leap, so I can’t speak to the context, but it seems that you are perhaps looking to pick apart minor inaccuracies that have little bearing on the overall message of the book in order to discredit it. I would also suggest that the review you recommend does about the same thing.

    When I was younger I attended several Skousen seminars. The were an absolute joke. They were designed for folks who had never read the Federalist Papers or any other primary source.

    So, are you saying it’s a joke to try and educate people who haven’t read the Federalist Papers or any other primary source? Should I infer from this that the seminars would’ve only been worthwhile had they been geared toward the more educated? Or should I just infer from this that you were just too educated to get anything of his seminars? Either way, this sounds very elitist of you.

    Here’s a thought. Maybe the seminars were MEANT to be for people who hadn’t been exposed to the primary sources.

    My favorite was the general topic of the Federal Reserve. Skousen and his ilk claim that the Fed was opposed by the Founders, usually citing Jefferson’s famous quote on the dangers of a national bank. But, do you know who wanted a national bank like the Fed? Alexander Hamilton! He wrote extensively on it. Claiming that the Founders opposed Fed-like institutions is ridiculous.

    I like how you describe them as “ilk”. That shows your contempt and doesn’t present a very objective opinion.

    As to the Founders’ opposition to a central bank, I believe that most of them did oppose a central bank. That some of them favored one doesn’t mean that Skousen was incorrect in his premise. Since a majority didn’t want one, that was the overriding opinion on the matter. You could make a comparison to the last presidential election. America elected Obama. So, in essence, America wanted Obama. That statement doesn’t include the many millions who DIDN’T want Obama, but it doesn’t negate the original premise.

    Going further, the fact that England tried to place the colonies under the monetary control of the Bank of England, it was seen as the last straw of English oppression which led directly to the Revolutionary War. So I’d say there was some pretty strong opposition to a central bank amongst the founders.

    There is a lot of ad hominem going on here, which is part of my frustration in trying to get any useful, objective information. Here is an article that I think is very fitting for everyone here to read.

  46. Tara,

    I have a real problem believing that there was nothing we could’ve done to “actually” help them other than just giving them moral support.

    Ok, you can play armchair quarterback. What exactly would you have done in Hungary? So far, your answers to date have been extremely short on specifics. Would you have sent in the 82nd airborne, dropped an atomic bomb, sent in the CIA? Please help me understand why your credentials are better than Ike’s successful D-Day invasion. Why should I believe that Ike was wrong on Hungary?

  47. Tara —

    I’ll deal with each issue in the order you provided:

    * The Franklin quote — Skousen used Franklin’s quote to justify the point that the Founders believed in traditional family life. But, Franklin wrote the letter as a satire. The portion Skousen quoted encouraged his son to get married. But, the bulk was on how to pick a mistress (advising an older one). Franklin’s point was that marriage was safe but a mistress was preferable, particularly one that was grateful. The title of the letter: “Advice on the Choice of a Mistress”. It wasn’t how to live a moral life — quite the contrary. Your argument is like claiming Jonathan Swift’s essay advocating the eating of Irish children was a gourmet guide. It was satire!

    * Skousen seminars. The problem is not education. The issue is education that is deeply flawed — historically inaccurate, legally silly, etc. The material was absolutely bizarre. What would you consider the major events in US history? I think most would say slavery and the Civil War would be near the top of the list. Skousen? He barely mentions slavery. In fact, in one of his books, he argued that those most harmed were the slaveowners, not the slaves. As to the Civil War, he generally ignored it even though much of our modern civil rights concepts flow from the Reconstruction constitutional amendments. I think the key reason was that he didn’t like Lincoln (basically thought he was a tyrant). My point is simple. If someone wants to learn about the Constitution, find a good solid book or attend a college class. Either was far superior than Skousen’s material — at least the basic facts are correct.

    * Founders opposition to a central bank. Where did you get that? That sounds like Skousen — Claiming all the Founders thought . . . . John Adams & Alexander Hamilton pushed the concept. It was a key part of the Federalist Party platform, the dominate party for the first years of the Republic. Washington went along with the idea. I can make a pretty strong argument that is was the majority position among those who attended the Constitutional convention (ie. most supported in the first few decades after adoption). Jefferson opposed and undid the First Bank of the United States. Another was later put in place and Andrew Jackson dissolved it. This was a back and forth issue for decades.

    * Bank of England control of the US economy was the last straw? Where did that come from? That is a new one. Is that the latest conspiracy claim? I guess the Revolution had little to do with the Stamp Act, Quartering Act, Townshend Acts, the Boston Massacre, etc. Yep. It was the Bank of England’s fault. Good grief.

    * Ad Hominem attacks. I agree with the general principle that they are generally weak arguments. The issues with Skousen, though, are the except. He built his career claiming he was an FBI expert on communism. He was not. That is utterly central to his credibility. Thus, it is relevant. Here is his official biography on his website: http://www.skousen2000.com/biography.htm Here is the key quote: “Dr. Skousen served the FBI for 16 years (1935-1951), and worked closely with J. Edgar Hoover.” In reality, he never worked with the FBI director. He continued that lie until his death (of note, he deleted the claim of being an FBI expert on communism.)

  48. I wish I could edit after I post . .

    “The issue with Skousen, though, is the exception.”

  49. Tara,

    Here’s a thought. Maybe the seminars were MEANT to be for people who hadn’t been exposed to the primary sources.

    What made it a joke is that Skousen was someone who acted and spoke as if he himself had never been exposed to the primary sources. That’s what the joke is.

    As to the Founders’ opposition to a central bank, I believe that most of them did oppose a central bank. That some of them favored one doesn’t mean that Skousen was incorrect in his premise. Since a majority didn’t want one, that was the overriding opinion on the matter.

    Tara, you do realize that the Founders created two National Banks, right? The First National Bank of America was chartered in 1791. The Second National Bank was chartered in 1816.

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