Monthly Archives: October 2012

HELL AND BACK

In 1948, when I was still almost a child, I became aware of politics and presidential elections for the first time. Yes, I know most of you think that my childhood took place around the time that Galileo was telling the world that the Earth really did rotate around the Sun, rather than vice versa. But, as I said, it was 1948 that I first became aware that their were Democrats and Republicans, and elections every four years. In that year, the presidential race was between Tom Dewey, the Republican, and Harry Truman, the Democrat. Truman, of course, had been FDR’s Vice-President, and took over the presidency in 1945 when Roosevelt died. A feisty Missourian, Truman decided to run for reelection in 1948 against very heavy odds. Supposedly, the country was tired of 16 years of Democratic rule, people wanted a change, Truman didn’t have the stature that FDR had, etc., etc. All the polls, and all the political pundits of that day proclaimed that the Republicans were a sure bet in the election. My father, who was a life-long Democrat, was bemoaning the fact that the Republicans would win that year. But somehow, I had an instinctive feeling that Truman would upset the applecart. Call it intuition. I told my father not to worry, that in the end, the Democrats would retain their hold on the White House. Whereupon, my father told me to keep my mouth shut, lest the neighbors overhear my remarks and discover what an idiot son he had raised.

Tom Dewey, the man that everybody expected to triumph, had been a racketeer busting District Attorney in Manhattan, and scored a boatload of convictions of Mafia kingpins, which subsequently propelled him into the Governor’s seat in New York.  He had  been nominated, ran against and lost to Roosevelt in 1944, but 1948 was supposedly going to be his year. Being a moderate progressive (yes, they still had some of those in the GOP at that time), Dewey picked Earl Warren, then Governor of California and even more progressive than himself, to be his running mate. The Dewey/Warren ticket looked to be unstoppable. But Truman and the Democrats had other ideas.

One of Truman’s favorite proclamations when he was in office, was that if the Republicans didn’t like his policies “they could all go to hell.” He was roundly chastised by the GOP for this, as many Republicans protested how “undignified” it was for the President to use such profanity. Whereby Truman explained that ” I just tell the truth and the Republicans think it’s hell.” Well we all know what subsequently ensued. Dewey, believing the Gallop poll which showed him comfortably in the lead, eased up on the gas pedal, and pretty much coasted the last 10 days to election. Truman, on the other hand, showed his feistiness with an all-court press to the very end of the campaign. People woke up on Wednesday after the election to find that Truman had scored a major upset and won reelection after all. The “Chicago Tribune” which had been absolutely convinced that Dewey would prevail, printed its Wednesday edition on Tuesday night before the election results were in, with the blaring headline-DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN. In one of the most iconic photographs of the 20th century, a beaming Harry Truman is shown holding up a copy of that newspaper and headline in front of a multitude of news cameras.

While both my father and I cheered Truman’s victory, in retrospect, our country might have turned out better if the Dewey/Warren ticket had prevailed. The Republican Party might have retained the moderate progressivism of those candidates, to this day. Instead, after Eisenhower left the scene, the GOP began shifting further and further to the right, until today when it’s firmly entrenched in the streets of right-wing looney-tunesville. Moderate Republicanism has become as extinct as the Dodo bird.

Truman went on to have a successful 4 year-administration and today is usually ranked by historians as one of our best presidents. Dewey quickly faded from the scene after 2 losses in a row, but Earl Warren was subsequently appointed by Eisenhower to be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. The Court under Warren’s leadership achieved some historic decisions, including the establishment of a criminal defendant’s “Miranda Rights, ” and establishment of the exclusionary rule whereby evidence obtained though illegal searches could no longer be entered in a criminal trial.

So what’s the relevance of these 64-year-old events to this years election? Well, for one, it would be nice if Obama were able to display some of Harry Truman’s spirit and feistiness and never-say-die attitude. Because he doesn’t he’s on the verge of being a one-term President. What’s also different is the mind-boggling amounts of money being spent this year versus the events of yesteryear. I guess with all those billionaires pouring multi-millions into Romney’s campaign, the Democrats always faced a severe uphill battle this year, even under the best of circumstances. Also the very essence of the democratic process has become a joke. Republican Governors in key swing states, have been systematically removing registered voters from the voting rolls, on the pretense that these people are not legitimate citizens of those states. To no one’s surprise, those being removed are from the lower classes that usually vote heavily Democratic.

Also, a number of those Romney-supporting billionaires like the Koch brothers own industries that employ thousands of people. Written word has gone down to those workers that if Obama wins, the jobs of all those thousands of employees will likely be in jeopardy, or the health care and other benefits these employees currently receive will no longer be available. Voter intimidation has become so massive, that one political columnist called it a coup-d’etat in slow motion. So through voter intimidation, and removing Democrats from voter eligibility lists, plus requiring people that are allowed to vote to present Government issued, picture ID, it’s hard to see how the Republicans can lose. That the race is so close a week before election day, bespeaks to what a piece of garbage the Republican platform is. But it’s almost certain that Romney will buy and bulldoze his way into the Oval Office. In the meantime, with still a week to go, it wouldn’t hurt if the Democrats raised all kinds of hell, the way Harry Truman would have done it.

 

 

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RELIGIOUS FANATICISM ….. AGAIN

Next year will mark the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s historic ruling on abortion in the case known as Roe V. Wade. In a 7-2 ruling, the Supreme Court, citing a woman’s constitutional right to privacy, struck down laws that existed in virtually every state, that restricted a woman’s right to terminate an unwanted pregnancy in a sterile medical facility. Abortions were still taking place prior to the court’s decision; but more often than not, women had to accept some back-alley butcher as the abortion provider. It didn’t happen frequently, but sometimes women died during the procedure, because the person performing the abortion was often not a medical professional. In the 39 years since Roe V. Wade became law, about 55 million abortions have taken place, over, of course, the strenuous objections of religious fanatics who have fought the de-criminalization of abortion every step of the way. The Republican platform this year would prohibit abortions in every circumstance, without exception. Since the prohibition of anything is meaningless unless there are serious criminal penalties attached, the tens of millions of women that have had abortions over the last 39 years would have to do some serious jail time (say 5-10 years or longer) to say nothing of the doctors that performed the abortions and the nurses that may have assisted them, had the anti-abortionists won the day. I always knew that there was a considerable shortage of prison space in this country.

This came to mind because during this election season, all the snakes seem to be slithering out from under the rocks that sheltered them. For example, about 6-8 months ago there were a series of vile sermons given in churches (all of which seemed to be in North Carolina for some reason) that sought to demonize homosexuality in general and gay marriage in particular using the most venomous language. The sermons were being recorded and later posted on YouTube for all the world to see. What was most disturbing about these exercises in pure, distilled hatred, was not the bible-thumping crackpots giving these sermons. It was the several hundred people who attended these churches and cheered wildly as the bible -thumpers promised hell and damnation to anyone living the gay life-style. So much for civility and love-thy-neighbor in the Christian community.

Then several weeks ago, the Republican running for the U.S. Senate in Missouri decided that he was going to outdo everybody in his fanatical anti-abortion beliefs. He came out with statements to the effect that he was told by medical professionals, that in cases of “legitimate” rape, a woman’s body would naturally cleanse itself of the fetus. He didn’t say what the body would do in cases of illegitimate rape, or for that matter, what his definitions of legitimate versus illegitimate rape were. The absurdity of his remarks were so mind-boggeling that even Mitt Romney, who goes to huge lengths not to offend any possible voter, issued a mild rebuke. However, even Karl Rove, George W. Bush’s former consigliere, who has created his own Super-Pac, with express intent of electing an all-Repulican Congress as a present to a Romney presidency, washed his hands of that one.

Still not to be out-done in religious fanaticism, the guy running for the U.S. Senate in Indiana, the other day, made the incoherent statement that if a woman gets pregnant because of rape (presumably both legitimate and illegitimate) it’s God’s will that she have that baby rather than seek abortion. ( Just the words that  the parents of a 15 year-old daughter that’s been sexually assaulted by some psycho animal, want to hear.) The problem in this case is that His Mittness had previously been caught on tape as endorsing this Republican candidate, as just the type of person that’s needed in Washington to clean things up. Fearing that he may have already alienated one evangelical nut-case too many with his previous rebuke of the guy in Missouri, His Mittness is still standing by his endorsement of the Indiana would-be Senator. Both the Missouri and Indiana religious extremists are Tea-Party favorites who believe that all our fiscal problems will be solved if we just cut-out the couple of million dollars the Government gives to Planned Parenthood. But don’t under-estimate depth of religious zealotry that prevails in much of this country, especially in the mid-west and south. Both men might still eke out a narrow victory in each of their races.

Lets go back, for the moment, to the elections of 2010 when the Tea Party movement was at its zenith. It was obvious that the GOP would capture control of the House of Representatives by a wide margin due to the country’s dislike of Obamacare and other issues. Karl Rove, who I mentioned earlier, also set his sights on Republican control of the Senate; but that would be more difficult because the Democrats had 59 Senate seats. But it was doable. One of the key Senate races that Rove was counting on to switch from Democrat to Republican was in Delaware. Mike Castle, one of dying breed of moderate Republicans, was running for that seat, and was considered a shoo-in victor against his Democratic opponent. He had been a popular Governor and then Congressman, and Rove considered his election to be a forgone conclusion. But first he had to win the GOP primary.

The Tea Party movement at that time, in its infinite wisdom, considered Mike Castle to be too moderate, and so put up their own candidate to oppose him in the primary. Their choice was a woman named Christine O’Donnell who had no previous political experience. Like Sarah Palin, she was pretty and perky, but a complete dingbat. However, only 12% of registered Republicans bothered to show up for the primary vote, and most of them were Tea Party fanatics. Christine O’Donnell, therefore, beat Mike Castle in the primary to became the GOP nominee, but thereby ended all hopes of the Senate reverting to Republican control. Upon hearing the news of Christine’s win, it was said that Karl Rove threw a tantrum, beating his fists into the floor and wailing for 24 hours.

In the general election (which was for Joe Biden’s old seat), it came out that Christine had practiced some form of witchcraft in the 1990s. As you may remember, that led her to cut a famous TV ad in which she starts out by saying: “I’m not a witch.” Words that the average American thought they would never hear in a political campaign since the 17th century. In any event, the Democrat, who was largely unknown, easily won the race and ended GOP hopes for Senate control.

In this coming election, the Tea Party is also strongly backing Mitt Romney and Republican Congressional hopefuls. It doesn’t matter that His Mittness used to be for safe and legal abortions before he was against them, that he was for universal health care before he was against it, that he was for gun control laws before he was against them and on and on. If I listed everything, I have a blog longer than the Dead Sea Scrolls. But if elected, Romney will make one major difference, and that is appointing an anti-abotion judge to the Supreme Court. The 40 year dream of zealots, fanatics, and outright religious crackpots, of overturning Roe V. Wade will finally be realized, if the public allows this by electing Mitt Romney as our next President.

 

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REPUBLICAN MATH

In the waning days of Dwight Eisenhower’s presidency, Ike issued a very prophetic warning, which we as a nation, failed to heed. Ike, as he became known, was, of course, the Supreme Commander of allied forces in Europe that successfully prosecuted the war effort against the Nazi empire. He returned home as a conquering hero and subsequently joined the Republican party, and then ran for President in 1952. He defeated a hapless Adlai Stevenson by landslide margins in both 1952, and then again, in 1956. Stevenson had been Governor of Illinois and was a man of outstanding honor and integrity, but he had no chance against Ike’s popularity and friendly smile. Although Ike seemed to prefer spending most of his days out on the golf course, there were 2 significant accomplishments during the Eisenhower administration. One was the start of constructing the interstate highway system that auto travelers enjoy the benefits of to this day. The second was taking action to integrate the highly segregated public school systems that existed at that time throughout the South. In 1957 the courts had decreed that high schools in Little Rock, Arkansas must admit the first black students to an all-white high school which had been segregated since Civil War days. The Governor of Arkansas, a rigid segregationist, had sent the police to block the entrance of a school where 9 black students were to be admitted. Ike, thereupon, called out the national guard to personally escort the black students into school, and the first de-segregation of all- white schools in the South had commenced. Eisenhower took these actions reluctantly, as he was no great civil rights champion. But, nevertheless, he did achieve a landmark civil rights accomplishment.

In the last days of his presidency, Ike issued a proclamation warning us about the undue growing influence of the “military-industrial complex.”  He meant that our growing military might,  coupled the the growing power of the military weapons industry, was beginning to exert undue power, and if left unchecked, would exert continuing undue influence to assure their increasing domination over national affairs. Coming from a former 5-star general, this was certainly a warning to be taken seriously. So being a nation of exceptional wisdom, rationality and sanity, the U.S. immediately began slashing its military budget, began withdrawing troops from far reaching corners of the globe, and took actions to lessen the influence of the weapons manufacturers-NOT. Perhaps such actions might have been taken in a parallel universe, but in this time and space, Eisenhower’s admonitions went totally unheeded. Instead, the military budget has been sharply increased, and the growing influence of weapons manufacturers and other Defense contractors in our national affairs is huge.

The power and influence of the military-industrial complex led directly to the fiasco known as the Viet-Nam war. There was a belief in the early 1960s that the U.S. was militarily invincible, a belief fed to us by the military-industrial complex, which led us to confront the Viet-Cong in the hellhole jungles of Southeast Asia in the belief that we would score an easy victory over a ragtag collection of jungle insurgents. The rest, as they say, is history. That ragtag Viet-Cong army not only defeated us, but about 58,500 American lives were lost, to say nothing of the tens of thousands of American lives that were ruined because of severe war injury, to say nothing of the hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese lives that were lost and the gazillion dollars that were wasted. The scars from the Viet-Nam war remain fresh in the American psyche to this day. Which brings us to the Republican math problem and the future that a Romney presidency would bring to our country.

In the current election, large segments of the electorate have expressed a desire for sharply reduced expenditures leading to a balanced budget, while maintaing a strong military. So naturally, His Mittness has promised both. Except that the math doesn’t fit. Most people aren’t aware that that about 83% of our annual budget (for which we have to borrow 40 cents out of every dollar we spend) is comprised of 4 items, i.e., interest on the debt, Social Security, Medicare, and Defense spending. We can’t tamper with interest on the debt; if we did, we could never borrow again. Self-absorbed seniors like myself won’t stand for any meaningful cuts in Social Security or Medicare; thats like the third rail of politics that no politician is willing to touch. So that leaves Defense spending which comes in at over $700 billion a year as the one significant area where discretionary budget cuts could be made. But here’s where the Republican math goes bonkers. Instead of cutting Defense, His Mittness has promised to increase military spending by about $100-$200 billion a year. Chalk it up to the influence of the military-industrial complex which is especially powerful in swing states such as Virginia. Oh yes, Romney is also promising a 20% tax cut across the board. But somehow he will balance the budget, in defiance of all mathematical sanity. So far he stated he will do this by eliminating funding for PBS and Planned Parenthood, which, as I said last time, is like trying to empty the Pacific Ocean with an eyedropper.

His Mittness is just trying to emulate the playbook that worked so well for Ronald Reagan in the 1980s. Reagan also promised to cut taxes, sharply increase Defense spending, and yet somehow, magically, balance the budget. Except that Reagan’s actions of cutting taxes and boosting military expenditures led to a 300% increase in the public deficit. But it did get him elected, twice. It’s amazing though, how mathematical computations always seem to trump political promises. In any event, Romney’s positions are on the threshold of getting him elected as our next President, no matter how mathematically impossible they are. Mitt Romney is our do anything, say anything it takes to get elected candidate. I’m firmly convinced he would be hesitant to criticize a group of Nazi skinheads with swastikas carved in their foreheads if he thought it might cost him a few votes.

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GREAT EXPECTATIONS

No, this isn’t a piece on the classic masterpiece written by Charles Dickens in the 19th century, although a discussion of that novel would certainly be a worthy topic. Instead, I’m writing about new-found Republican optimism following last week’s acclaimed performance by Mitt Romney at the first Presidential debate. He came charging out-of-the-gate with just the right amount of strong aggressiveness mixed with smiling friendliness to win plaudits from both Republicans and Democrats alike. President Obama, on the other hand, appeared weak and indecisive, as if he believed the latest polls showing him in the lead in key states, and felt as long as he didn’t commit any major gaffes, he could just coast along until election day. But as any football team can tell you, trying to just sit on a lead and let the clock run out is often a recipe for disaster. So Obama’s poor performance may well cost him the presidency as the most recent polls show Romney surging into the lead. Couple a very probable Romney win with the strong possibility that the GOP will also capture control of the Senate and House, and I thought it might be fun, if you want to call it that, to see what an all Republican-run Government might look like come next January.

Let’s start with the comment made last week by a Republican Congressman from Georgia. He said that everyone who believed in Darwin’s Theory of Evolution was either going straight to hell, or deserved to be sent to hell. He further stated that the Earth was only 9000 years old, and anyone who believed otherwise was going, again, to you know where. I guess those dinosaurs that roamed the planet 65 million years ago only thought they were on planet Earth. They must have been in an entirely different galaxy altogether. While I can’t find the words to describe the grandiose stupidity of such remarks, the most troubling aspect is number of citizens and voters who believe such delusional thinking. The tens or hundreds of thousands of voters that elected this guy to Congress in the first place. Or the fact that numerous polls show a majority of the populace does not believe in Evolution, even though one visit to any museum of natural history in any major city, would prove to them otherwise. But I guess people who prefer to live in a state of delusion, especially religious delusion, are not big museum goers.

In any event, His Mittness has focused on the poor job market and our huge deficit spending as his main targets to address when entering the Oval Office, so let’s see what would happen come January. In the debate, Romney stated that he would eliminate Government assistance to the Public Broadcasting System and Planned Parenthood. The total Government subsidy to these 2 organizations is about $2.5 million out of an annual budget of $3.8 trillion and an accumulated deficit of $16 trillion. It would be like scooping a glass of water out of the ocean in order to reduce the sea level. So why does Romney even mention these 2 examples? Because PBS is perceived as being favorable toward liberals (even though they’re not) while Planned Parenthood, of course, performs the unforgivable sin of allowing abortions. If PPS favored the  conservative cause, the GOP would want to shower it with funding. On the other hand, His Mittness has stated that he wants to sharply increase Defense spending, i.e. buy more ships, planes, missiles, etc., and significantly increase troop strength. He’s talking about increasing the Defense budget, which already stands at over $700 billion annually, anywhere from another $100-$200 billion a year, but hasn’t said where he would get the additional funding. Oh I know. He could obtain the extra cash from  Big Bird’s nest egg. Romney has publicly stated that he want’s to cut income taxes by 20%, increase Defense spending by $1-2 trillion over 10 years, and yet magically balance the budget. He would follow the same formula that Ronald Reagan used in the 1980’s. Only Reagan’s actions led to a 300 percent increase in our accumulated deficit. These are all crucial points that Obama could have made but didn’t, as he snoozed his way through the debate.

The supposedly rotten economy is Romney’s other big selling point. Except it’s not quite as rotten as it has been made out to be. The vast majority of Americans are working in their preferred jobs. The stock market has been on a steady surge upward. The unemployment rate is higher than the preferred norm by about 2 percent, but it’s getting better. If some of the 15-20 million jobs that American companies have shipped overseas were brought brought back to the U.S., the unemployment numbers would be so low that there would be dancing in the streets. The real estate market, which was the main culprit behind the entire economic downturn in the first place, is still in poor shape. But real estate prices had become so over-inflated, and banks and mortgage companies had acquired so much worthless paper, that it will take years for the market to make a reasonable recovery. This is true no matter who had been elected President. Also true is that whether it’s Obama or Romney in the White House next year, the economy will continue to steadily improve, regardless of the President’s actions. Further points that the Democrat’s could have, but didn’t make.

One last thing. To show the incredible level of Democratic political ineptness and incompetence, one needs to look no further than the very blue state of Conn. There is a Senate race this year that pits the Democratic candidate against a Republican woman whose primary qualification is that she is or was co-owner of the Worldwide Wrestling Federation. This she be a no-brainer win for the Democrat in this, as I’ve said, very blue state. Yet the latest polls show the GOP WWF owner to be winning. If the Dems lose that race, it’s very likely they will lose control of the Senate. When it comes to political competence or smarts, the GOP is like the N.Y. Yankees playing, not a triple A minor league team, but a double A team, for the World Series. It’s a miracle that the Dems ever win any important race. I can only chalk it up to how rotten the Republican agenda is.

 

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FEAR ITSELF

At the height of the depression, in May 1933, Franklin Roosevelt, during his inaugural address when being sworn in as President for the first time, uttered these now famous lines: “…there is nothing to fear but fear itself, nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”  Indeed, the Depression itself resulted from unreasoning terror when people discovered that stock market prices were considerably inflated, and began a panic selling spree which caused the stock market to crash. As more terror and fear spread throughout the populace, people were rushing to withdraw their money from banks, which then led to hundreds of bank failures and further economic misery for millions of people. Anyone that has checking or savings accounts with a bank knows that the bank has only a tiny fraction of the cash on hand supporting those accounts. If all account holders show up at once, demanding withdrawal of their entire assets, the bank would go under in less than 2 hours, and that was exactly what was happening in the early phase of the Depression. Between the stock market crash and the multitude of bank failures, millions saw their life savings vanish almost overnight, only to be followed by a bleak future of economic poverty.

Sometimes fear is a good thing, in that it can motivate us to take life-saving actions. For example, if an intruder was attempting to break-in to your home, the accompanying fear one would feel could lead to self-defense actions that could save one’s life. Similarly, a life-threatening illness would certainly motivate one to seek necessary therapies. So fear can be a positive emotion, when the source of that fear is genuine, but it can be highly destructive when it’s fed by paranoia or irrationality. During the 1930s there was generally a lack of concern in this country that we would be dragged into the coming world war, even as Nazi and Japanese military machines were on the march in Europe and the Pacific. This lack of fear, if you will, fed by a false sense of security that the Atlantic and Pacific oceans would protect us from becoming involved militarily, directly led to the disaster at Pearl Harbor, and our huge unpreparedness when we were forced to enter the war. After WWII, however, the fear factor relating to the rise of Communism swung completely in the opposite direction, as fear and paranoia came to rule of the day.

Shortly after the end of WWII, Communist Russia, then ruled by Josef Stalin, one of the greatest butchers in history, marched into Eastern Europe, and almost effortlessly, took over control of a slew of countries such as Poland, Hungry, Rumania, etc. About the same time, a Communist revolution in China, under the leadership of Mao Zedong, overthrew the existing Chinese government and took control of that country. Mao was also no stranger to the butchery of thousands of people he felt were opposed to his regime. When, in 1949, Russia detonated its first H-bomb, fear and panic swept through the U.S. like the bubonic plague. It seemed as if Communism was on the march everywhere, and would soon engulf the entire world, us included. Suddenly, everyone was suspicious of everyone else, including family members, friends, co-workers, Government employees and so on. Maybe they were secretly Reds, or Communist sympathizers, Russian spies, left-wing pinkos, the list just went on and on. Of course Congress soon took notice of this fear of Communism and started investigations into the so-called red-menace that supposedly was proliferating in this country. Nothing like a strong dose of paranoia to help further one’s political ambitions.

It thus came to pass that a little-known Senator from Wisconsin named Joe McCarthy saw great opportunism and potential to further his political career by pushing the Communist scare. Tail-gunner Joe, as they called him because of his war service on a fighter-bomber, began by claiming there were hundreds of people working in the State Dept.,  or for the Army, or for other Government entities, that were secretly Communist traitors or spies covertly employed by the USSR to destroy America. After, there ensued years of Communist witch-hunting in hearing after hearing before McCarthy’s Senate committee where mostly innocent people were paraded forth and charged with being Communist traitors, causing their lives to be forever ruined. The House of Representatives, not to be outdone, established the House Un-American Activities Committee that investigated the so-called spread of Communism in Hollywood. Again, hundreds of innocent lives were dragged before that committee, and saw their lives ruined by innuendo or false accusations. Richard Nixon served on that committee, and gained the fame and notoriety that enabled him to eventually become President.

McCarthyism, as it subsequently become known as, was a classic example of irrational fear run rampant, and is a word in the dictionary to this day. Finally that all-consuming fear of Communist dominance began to somewhat subside in the late 1950s, but not until thousands of lives had been ruined by false accusations and the occurrence  of several suicides. Around 1956, the US Army stood up to McCarthy and demanded hearings on McCarthy’s accusations that its ranks were being infiltrated by Communists. Until then, virtually everyone was too intimidated to take on Tail-gunner Joe’s false charges. Those hearings exposed McCarthyism for the evil that it was, and McCarthy himself was subsequently condemned by Congressional resolution. Being a near alcoholic, Joe McCarthy subsequently drank himself to death in the late 1950s. However the fear of Communism lived on until 1989, especially in right-wing quarters, until the old Soviet Union collapsed under the weight of its own cumbersome system.

Irrational fear and paranoia, however, the type that FDR spoke of, has never really disappeared from the American political scene. Today it lives on in the ranks of the right-wing tea party movement that would seek to turn the Government clock back to what it looked like in the 19th century. And they are within shouting distance of taking over both the Presidency and Congress in the coming election. Won’t life be fun then. We could all take our paranoia pills every morning, just popping them in like vitamins, and go tiptoeing thru the tulips without a care in the world.

 

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