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"The good news: I thought Our Kampf was consistently hilarious. The bad news: I’m the guy who wrote Monkeybone."—Sam Hamm, screenwriter, Batman, Batman Returns, and Homecoming

September 25, 2011


There's an op-ed in the Washington Post today by Sally Kohn called "President Obama shouldn’t be afraid of a little class warfare." Here's some of what it says:

The class war began in 1971. That year, soon-to-be Supreme Court justice Lewis F. Powell Jr. wrote a confidential memorandum to a friend at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce about the "Attack of the American Free Enterprise System."

Oh man that makes me so happy. Of course, the title of the memo was actually "Attack on American Free Enterprise System," as you can see in this, which I believe is the original:

However, at some point it got reprinted somewhere—with both the correct title at the top, AND the greatest typo in world history in the subhead: "Attack OF American Free Enterprise System":

This must be the version that has circulated the most widely, because both PBS and Reclaim Democracy have the incorrect title in their transcribed versions. So that's fantastic already. But now with the wrong title in a Washington Post article, it may really go down in history (ie, Google) that way.

Also, this is interesting: just last month, the version of the Powell memo with the typo was hosted here on—the astroturf arm of Edelman, the largest private PR company on earth. Their clients include the Chamber of Commerce. So they're carrying out exactly the kind of Attack of American Free Enterprise that Lewis Powell wanted. I guess they still used it as a playbook.

However, as you can see by going to that link, it's now vanished from the Grassroots website. I wonder why?

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at September 25, 2011 12:55 PM

I am really surprised that such an excellent Op-Ed was published by Washington Post. May be that also fell through the cracks!!!

Posted by: Rupa Shah at September 25, 2011 05:10 PM

I'm behind Ms. Kohn 1000% and I plan to stay behind her anywhere from 50 to 500 meters. Do ya think she'll lead US all to a vacant lot somewhere to protest wallstreet and git in the papers? I ALREADY live in the middle-of-nowhere-Wyoming. I feel emanently qualified to give some sage advice on life in a vacant lot. Online only of course as I'm begining to think its a hoot no one sez much about getting robbed of everything BY THE BANKERS with absolutely no charges filed, YET.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at September 25, 2011 07:58 PM

Good eye Jonathan.

It reminds me of some of the research by Dr. Roger A. Pielke Sr. who watched this same phenomenon evolve within some scientific papers.

Posted by: Dredd at September 26, 2011 12:42 PM

The original is correct, just missing some punctuation. It should read "Attack on, American Free Enterprise System!"

Posted by: lacp at September 26, 2011 03:02 PM

As they say down at the VFW, Free Enterprise is never free.

Posted by: Jonathan Versen at September 26, 2011 03:11 PM

A modest proposal,

Eat the homeless

Posted by: ironbutterly at September 26, 2011 06:43 PM

Ms. Kohn, for some reason, believes that Obama has any intention to actually challenge his funders. I can't image why.

Posted by: Bill Michtom at September 27, 2011 04:30 AM

Want to see some kinda justice over the BANKERS? Then its up to U%I, no one else is going to do it.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at September 27, 2011 01:33 PM

a personal note: the author of this rock song grew up in the same small Indiana town as my mother's father, although at a different time


John Mellencamp

If you're feelin' shut down
May my thoughts be with you
If you're a Black man bein' beat
down and shoved all around
May my thoughts be with you
If your world's gettin' a little too tough
You know our thoughts are with you
Hey, I know that it's crazy out there
And my thoughts are with you

We are the people
And we live forever
We are the people
And our future's written on the wind
On the wind

If you are one of the homeless
May our thoughts be with you
If you are scared and alone
You know our thoughts are with you
If you are one of the fortunate ones
We all know it's lonely up there
We understand that nobody's got it made
So our thoughts are with you

You see yourself as a leader
May my thoughts be with you
If you try to divide and conquer
We'll rise up against you
We know only the strong will survive
But the meek will inherit
So if you've got a coat of arms, oh friend
I suggest we wear it

Posted by: mistah 'MICFiC' charley, ph.d. at September 27, 2011 03:18 PM

a few words more -

Mike Meyer's quote of a Steppenwolf song (that I am very fond of) in an earlier thread reminded me of the song "We Are The People" -it is the song, not just the words of the song, which is memorable -

as Mike says supra, if the bank[st]ers are ever to face justice in THIS world (rather than the next, or the one after that) it will be because The People have demanded it, not because those currently in official positions, charged with enforcing the law, will do so of their own free will - we currently have a political culture of absolute impunity

can it be different within our lifetimes? well, who knows? but as the Dutch said to each other, during their LONG struggle to get out from under the Spanish - it is not necessary to hope, it is only necessary to persevere

Posted by: mistah charley, ph.d. at September 28, 2011 11:35 AM


I'm curious, having read the memo, it seems that both titles are apt. Are you pointing out the error as an example of bias, or just observing how such errors are propagated?

Posted by: Ironbutterly at September 28, 2011 12:48 PM

I worked in a small print shop in the Army. I'm guessing Typesetter's error. Happens everyday.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at September 29, 2011 12:35 PM

You certainly deserve a round of applause for your post and more specifically, your blog in general. Very high quality material

[ Spam link and dozens of duplicate comments removed. ]

Posted by: eXpigibia at September 29, 2011 12:35 PM

eXpiqibia: AGREED!

Posted by: Mike Meyer at September 29, 2011 12:39 PM

You certainly have a persistent spambot here. I enjoy reading the actual commentaries - the spamming, not so much.

Posted by: mistah 'MICFiC' charley, ph.d. at September 29, 2011 03:42 PM

Thanks for the mellencamp, mistah charley. (I'm glad he ditched the Cougar!)

And thanks for teaching me about Dutch perseverence. (I bet Jon's grandpa knew a bit about that, at least on the early end.)

Perseverence doesn't get the respect it deserves. Everyone can get as mushy as they want about faith, hope, and love, but without perseverence it's all just sappy talk.

Posted by: N E at October 2, 2011 06:41 AM