Hamilton Fish: An American Hero Smeared By British Intelligence

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Born into a political family that included an officer of the American Revolution and Ulysses Grant’s Secretary of State, Hamilton Fish III (1888-1991) was bound to go places. In the 1912 election, he sided with Theodore Roosevelt over William Howard Taft and after serving as a Progressive member of the New York State Assembly, he went to war.

Officer in the Harlem Hellfighters

Fish had already been a Captain in the military by the time the United States entered war, and was assigned as an officer in the Harlem Hellfighters. There, he became aware of the plight of black Americans, especially when the locals and white soliders in Spartanburg, South Carolina, threatened violence against his troops. Fish instructed his troops to defend themselves if attacked. Ultimately, he was able to consult with the officers of other units and prevent an incident. As a Congressman, Fish would succeed in adding an amendment to the 1940 draft bill that prohibited racial discrimination in enlistments, a stepping stone to the eventual desegregation of the army. For his services in World War I, he was awarded the Silver Star, with the citation “…Constantly exposed to enemy machinegun and artillery fire, his undaunted courage and utter disregard for his own safety inspired the men of the regiment, encouraging them to determined attacks upon strong enemy forces. Under heavy enemy fire, he assisted in rescuing many wounded men and also directed and assisted in the laborious task of carrying rations over shell-swept areas to the exhausted troops” (Taylor).

Election to Congress

In 1920, Fish was elected to Congress. During the 1920s, he was somewhat conservative but still at times voted to his Bull Moose roots. In 1922, he sponsored with Sen. Henry Cabot Lodge (R-Mass.) the Lodge-Fish Resolution, which endorsed the Balfour Declaration that called for a permanent home nation for Jews. That year he supported the Dyer Anti-Lynching bill, which if enacted would have established federal penalties for lynching. He would be a sponsor of another such measure in 1940. In 1930, Fish introduced a resolution to form a committee to investigate communism. As part of the committee’s activities, they investigated the ACLU as well as William Z. Foster, the head of CPUSA and the communist presidential candidate. The committee proved mostly unsuccessful in finding substantive evidence and in reporting its findings, the committee advocated granting the Justice Department more power to investigate communists and to strengthen immigration laws to keep communists out. Congress adopted none of these recommendations at the time, but forms of these recommendations would come to pass in the McCarran Internal Security Act in 1950 and the McCarran-Walter Immigration Act in 1952. Fish’s conservatism would grow after the 1932 election, as he came to oppose most measures pushed by the Roosevelt Administration and became one of its loudest critics, although not its most extreme: he supported Social Security and the federal minimum wage. As the country moved closer to war, he became ever more vocal on foreign policy. Although he was not the most extreme non-interventionist, he was the House’s most prominent and wielded some power as the ranking Republican on both the House Rules Committee and Foreign Affairs Committee.

The Campaign to Discredit Hamilton Fish

As the House’s leading opponent of American involvement in World War II, British Security Coordination engaged in an extensive and illegal intelligence campaign to paint Fish as a Nazi sympathizer. The BSC formed a front known as “Fight for Freedom”, and convinced numerous politicians to join, including Sen. Carter Glass (D-Va.) and New York City Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia. Journalists eagerly cooperated with BSC: on October 21, 1940, columnists Drew Pearson and Robert S. Allen suggested that the Nazis subsidized Fish through inflated rents they paid for property, which was false but damaging: Fish’s margin of victory was cut by over half that election year. On August 28, 1941, Fight for Freedom accused Fish of permitting the distribution through his Congressional frank of an anti-Semitic tract from American fascist William Dudley Pelley, which included an advertisement for the anti-Semitic forgery The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Most newspapers didn’t carry the story, but the left-wing PM, which cooperated with BSC, did. FFF also claimed in a press release that Fish stated after he was reached by telephone on the matter that, “But it doesn’t bother me any…There’s been too much Jewism going around anyway…”(Mahl). Fish denied that he knew of or authorized the inclusion of the Pelley tract and his telling of the conversation differed from that of FFF. It is highly unlikely that Fish had authorized such inclusion or said what FFF alleged given his excellent past record on Jewish issues and the organization’s over-arching goal to destroy his political career. However, the issue of franked mail was not over for him.

Matters got worse for Fish on the subject when the Secretary-Treasurer for the Nazi propaganda front organization Islands for War Debts Committee, Prescott Dennett, learned that the feds were going to be raiding his offices. He had been engaging in a scheme to illegally use Congressional franks to distribute speeches by non-interventionist members of Congress to send them across the nation, making Congress into a propaganda machine. Dennett quickly transferred bags of illegally franked mail to Fish’s office (which refused to take the bags, leaving them outside) and the remainder to the America First Committee. PM’s headline on the subject read, “HAM FISH SNATCHES EVIDENCE WANTED IN U.S. NAZI HUNT” (Mahl). It turned out that Fish’s Chief of Staff, George Hill, had been collaborating with Dennett in this scheme. Hill was convicted of perjury as he lied under oath about whether he knew George Sylvester Viereck, Dennett’s boss and the leading Nazi propaganda agent in the U.S.

Unfortunately, Fish also aided in this effort himself by some actions that left a poor impression. First, he met with Nazi Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop and offered to mediate on the issue of Danzig (a Polish city that was 95% German and had a majority Nazi senate) to which Ribbentrop refused. He then flew to Oslo in the Foreign Minister’s private plane (he apparently had no other way to get to a conference in the city). After stepping off the plane, he proclaimed Germany’s claims in Danzig to be “just”. That he socially knew George Sylvester Viereck also did not help him. Ultimately, the New York state Republican leadership under Governor Thomas E. Dewey tired of Fish’s continued non-interventionism and got him redistricted. Although he won a hard-fought primary in 1944, he lost reelection to centrist Republican Augustus W. Bennet. The worst that could be said for Fish was that he was careless with his associations in his cause to keep America out of foreign wars.

After Defeat

Fish used the remainder of his long life to pursue anti-communist causes and to try to set the record straight. In 1947, he opposed the Truman Administration’s Greek-Turkish Aid measure as imperialist and came to the conclusion that increased foreign commitments would draw the United States into war, which would prove all too correct in Vietnam. He wrote several books on the subject, including Tragic Deception (1983). Fish’s longevity was attributed to the “enormous pleasure” he took in the growth of American conservatism and Ronald Reagan’s presidency.

References

“Fish, Hamilton”. (2001). The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives.

Retrieved from

https://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/fish-hamilton

Mahl, T.E. (1998). Desperate deception: British covert operations in the United States, 1939-44. Washington, D.C.: Potomac Books, Inc.

Taylor, B. (2018, October 8). Hamilton Fish III and the “Harlem Hell Fighters”. Warfare History Network.

Retrieved from

https://warfarehistorynetwork.com/daily/military-history/hamilton-fish-iii-and-the-harlem-hell-fighters/

The War for Christmas in America

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At this time of year, a certain ritual occurs. This is the bemoaning of the “War on Christmas”. When he had his program on FOX, Bill O’Reilly would run segments on this topic, and it mainly regarded businesses trying to be sensitive with “Happy Holidays” and the far-left people who cared about such things until he declared that the “War on Christmas” had been won in 2016. What is not known by most, however, is that Christmas did not always have the place in our hearts it does today.

In the Colonial Era when the Puritans ruled the Massachusetts Bay Colony, they legislated their religious views in a number of ways. One of these was the first public education program on American soil, which was known as the Old Deluder Satan Act so that all people could read and interpret the Bible, another was banning Christmas in 1659. At this time, the Puritans also controlled Parliament, and they had banned Christmas celebrations in 1644, resulting in pro-Christmas riots. The Puritan law in Massachusetts read thusly:

For preventing disorders arising in several places within this jurisdiction, by reason of some still observing such festivals as were superstitiously kept in other countries, to the great dishonor of God and offence of others, it is therefore ordered by this Court and the authority thereof, that whosoever shall be found observing any such day as Christmas or the like, either by forbearing of labor, feasting, or any other way, upon such accountants as aforesaid, every person so offending shall pay of every such offence five shillings, as a fine to the county (Tourgee).

The Puritan rationale was that celebrations of Christmas distracted from worship, was not biblically justified, and constituted idolatry given the holiday’s pagan origins. Other Christian holidays weren’t safe either, as the Puritans held that “They for whom all days are holy can have no holiday” (Tourgee). In their defense, Christmas was a much rowdier event than today, with public drunkenness and sexual debauchery being well within the norms of the celebration. This ban, however, would not last long. Christmas celebrations were restored in Britain with the monarchy under Charles II in 1660, and in 1681 celebrations were allowed again under a royally appointed governor. Christmas celebrations were still not widespread in the colonies, and New Englanders kept a Puritan view on the subject for another 150 years, discouraging the holiday’s celebration. At the time of the founding of the United States, Christmas was not observed by the government as a holiday; in 1802 Congress actually convened on that day. However, Christmas gained some national significance in 1814, when the War of 1812 was ended by the Treaty of Ghent, signed on Christmas Eve. The popularity of Christmas as a holiday grew as Puritanism’s influence waned in New England and by 1840 it was accepted nationally as a day worth celebrating. Helping the holiday further was Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, which inspired the common greeting of “Merry Christmas” and informs much of the way we celebrate today. Finally, in 1870, Congress passed a law declaring Christmas an unpaid federal holiday, which was signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant.

References

Burton-Hill, C. (2014, December 19). When Christmas Carols were banned. BBC.

Retrieved from http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20141219-when-christmas-carols-were-banned

Raab, N. (2013, December 24). 10 Milestones In Christmas History That Might Surprise You. Forbes.

Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/nathanraab/2013/12/24/10-milestones-in-christmas-history-that-might-surprise-you/#4ddbc5d314be

Tourgee, H. (2018, December 19). How the Puritans Banned Christmas. New England Today Living.

Retrieved from https://newengland.com/today/living/new-england-history/how-the-puritans-banned-christmas/

 

Ten Abysmal Senators

Hating Congress has always been an American pastime, whether fair or not. However, we’ve had our share of politicians who were deserving of the scorn. This list is of those politicians who were so abysmal, that they stand beneath the rest. These senators served to taint the institution with their presence, whether it be through corruption, personal immorality, extreme and arbitrary views, profound ineffectiveness, or bigotry.

  1. Pappy O’Daniel (1890-1969)

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I’ve covered Pappy O’Daniel before…but here he is again! A successful flour salesman, Wilbert Lee “Pappy” O’Daniel found his way to host a radio program to pitch his flour and had his own band for whom he wrote songs for. His fanbase grew, and they started calling for him to get into politics. “Pappy” was a master of self-promotion but was politically uninterested until his listeners began suggesting he run for governor. He eventually took their suggestions, believing running for governor would help him promote the sales of his flour. He ran in 1938 with the campaign slogan of “Pass the Biscuits, Pappy!” to the consternation of intellectuals in the state. Yet, O’Daniel won the Democratic primary with 51% of the vote, which was the only vote that mattered in Texas at the time. In office, he failed to achieve his objectives as governor, largely due to the Texas legislature rejecting his impractical programs, which included a $35 a month pension for every Texan over 65 without raising the taxes to pay for it. O’Daniel of course blamed the legislators and would win reelection in 1940 by condemning the press, the legislature, and “communistic labor leader racketeers” (Green). After longtime incumbent Senator Morris Sheppard died, he first picked Andrew Jackson Houston, the 87-year old last surviving son of Texas hero Sam Houston. The man was senile and died two months after his appointment. O’Daniel was elected to replace him in June 1941. There, “Pappy” would drift increasingly to the right, condemning the “communist-controlled New Deal” and coupled this with racism, calling for the “restoration of the supremacy of the white race” (Jillson). His views on race were not unusual for a politician from the South, but his complete ineffectiveness and his ignorance in basic governance were. His relations in the Senate were poor as well, with his colleagues opting to shun him. After the end of World War II, O’Daniel had moved to the right of even most of his Republican colleagues and by 1948 he polled at only 7% approval. Knowing his time was up, he did not run for reelection. O’Daniel attempted comebacks in the 1950s, ranting against school desegregation, but by this point he had been largely forgotten and gained no traction. However, this senator had one accomplishment under his belt that no one else in politics could ever claim: defeating Lyndon B. Johnson in an election.

  1. Sherman Minton (1890-1965)

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FDR was a popular president, and his many supporters would go to great lengths to defend him. Some went a bit too far. Defeating a Republican incumbent in 1934, Indiana’s Sherman Minton proved a firm friend of the Roosevelt Administration, supporting many New Deal laws and backing some of its more controversial proposals, such as the infamous “court packing plan”, which, had it been enacted, would have expanded the Supreme Court from 9 to 15 justices. However, what was disconcerting was not his support of these laws, but his rationales for retention of these laws when the Supreme Court was striking down many of them. During his campaign he delivered a speech titled “You can’t eat the Constitution”, which advocated that the Constitution can be suspended in times of great human need (Dreyer). He thoroughly believed that the legislature should pass whatever is regarded as needed for the people regardless of what was written in the Constitution in a time of emergency. An intense partisan, Minton was a member of the Lobby Investigation Committee, which he used to investigate and intimidate FDR’s political opponents. He lost his 1940 reelection bid largely thanks to his vote in favor of a peacetime draft, but he found a future on the Supreme Court thanks to his friend, President Harry S. Truman. After minor controversy about his reputation as a New Dealer, Minton was easily confirmed in 1949. On the Supreme Court, he thought like he did as a senator: he proved almost always willing to uphold legislative action, and for this he is often regarded by Supreme Court scholars as one of its worst justices.

  1. Rufus Holman (1877-1959)

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Before his election to the Senate in 1938, Holman seemed a promising figure. He had served as Oregon’s State Treasurer and had taken an active concern in the environment. However, he had also been an officer in the KKK and his time in the Senate didn’t suggest he’d changed his views. Holman stood out as a strong opponent of FDR’s foreign policy as well as an opponent of loosening immigration laws. He also developed a reputation as an anti-Semite, having praised Hitler on the floor of the Senate, claiming he had “broken the control of the international bankers and traders over…the common people of Germany” (Sachar, 479).

Holman’s intense xenophobia resulted in extreme actions, such as proposing a bill stopping all quota immigration, restricting non-immigrant visits to six months, and introducing a constitutional amendment prohibiting dual citizenship (Jewish Telegraphic Agency). Given his legislative history, it is no surprise that Holman was a staunch supporter of Japanese internment as well, but this made him no different than other politicians of west coast states of the time. By 1944, his views were unpopular, and the Republican voters chose liberal Wayne Morse in the primary over him. Holman never again sought elected office after this defeat.

  1. William Scott (1915-1997)

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In 1972, the state of Virginia for the first time since Reconstruction, elected a Republican to represent the state in the Senate. As a Congressman, Scott had developed a very conservative reputation, which was part of his appeal in Virginia at the time. Unfortunately, he built up a different reputation in the Senate. He proved to be its least impressive member and gained a reputation for incompetence and bigotry. An example of his political acumen was when an obscure newspaper called ran an article on him declaring him the “dumbest Senator”. Made aware of this, what did Scott do? He held a press conference to deny it! An example of his bigotry was when he allegedly stated, “The only reason we need ZIP codes is because niggers can’t read” (Goldfield, 197). Getting low marks from his colleagues on both sides of the aisle, he wisely opted not to run for reelection in 1978.

  1. Coleman Blease (1868-1942)

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This vulgar governor of South Carolina, who was racist and pro-lynching to the point that he once buried a finger of a lynched black man in the garden of the governor’s mansion, Blease eventually found his way to the Senate in 1924. For his campaign, he employed a nonsensical slogan of “Roll up yer sleeves and say what cha’ please; the man fer the office is Cole L. Blease” (Moore). As a senator, he carried no influence with his colleagues and continued to be most known for virulent racism. In 1928, he proposed an anti-miscegenation amendment to the Constitution, which went nowhere. In response to First Lady Lou Hoover inviting Jessie De Priest, the black wife of Illinois Congressman Oscar De Priest (R-Ill.) for tea, he read into the Congressional Record the 1901 poem “Niggers in the White House”. After protests from Republican Senators Walter Edge and Hiram Bingham, he withdrew the poem from the record, but only in the name of not offending Bingham (The Evening Tribune). In 1930, he was defeated for renomination in the Democratic primary by James F. Byrnes, who he had defeated in 1924.

  1. William Clark (1839-1925)

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As a leading copper mining magnate and one of the wealthiest men in the nation, William Clark could purchase almost any luxury, so why not a Senate seat? After an initial loss in 1890, he decided to sweeten the pot for the state legislators in his 1899 bid. With his son, Clark bribed legislators on a massive scale. He was so obvious about it that he even had his agents deliver envelopes of money directly to them. The margin of Democrat Clark’s victory was secured by 11 Republican legislators who had received money under suspect circumstances. Worse yet, Clark admitted he destroyed all checks regarding campaign transactions. The Senate investigation and subsequent report on his campaign proved so damning that Clark resigned. However, a new legislature convened in 1901, with most members having received campaign contributions from him. Thus, Clark was elected to a full Senate term without incident. Mark Twain wrote of him, “He is as rotten a human being as can be found anywhere under the flag; he is a shame to the American nation, and no one has helped to send him to the Senate who did not know that his proper place was the penitentiary, with a ball and chain on his legs” (Dedman). Apparently satisfied with his time as a senator, Clark did not pursue elected office again after one term. Despite his reputation as a corrupt robber baron, Clark County, Nevada, which has as its county seat Las Vegas, is named after him for the railroad he built there.

  1. William Lorimer (1861-1934)

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Having worked his way from extreme poverty to great prosperity, Lorimer was an example of the American Dream come true. Through his extensive business and political connections, he was able to build a political machine in Chicago. Known as the “blond boss”, this Republican used his mastery of political campaigning and showmanship to be repeatedly elected to a normally Democratic district of Chicago. In 1909, he was elected to the Senate by the Illinois State Legislature. However, Lorimer was corrupt, and this corruption would catch up to him.

In 1910, the Chicago Tribune alleged that his election had been won by bribing four Democratic state legislators, just enough to put him over the top. Lorimer asked the Senate to investigate the charges, and the first investigation cleared him of the charges. However, not all were convinced. Senator Albert Beveridge (R-Ind.) found that the four legislators had testified under oath that they had been bribed, and received large sums of money afterwards despite their subsequent denials. A new investigation was launched in 1911 after public outrage over the result of the first one. This investigation discovered that over ten legislators had been bribed by Lorimer’s campaign. Lorimer and his defenders claimed that he had no knowledge of his campaign’s activities, but the Senate voted to invalidate his election. This corruption case was the final straw needed to pass the 17th Amendment, which provided for the direct election of senators.

  1. Robert R. Reynolds (1884-1963)

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Elected to the Senate from North Carolina as a Democrat in 1932 after running a populistic campaign deriding his primary opponent for his wealth, Robert Reynolds was initially a supporter of the New Deal. However, he would later prove to have substantive differences with FDR, especially on foreign policy. Reynolds was the only non-interventionist representing the state of North Carolina and went further than being merely war aversive. He regularly made speeches praising Italy and Germany on the floor of the Senate and in 1938, he stated, “Hitler and Mussolini have a date with destiny. It’s foolish to oppose them, so why not play ball with them” (Jeansonne, 35)? Reynolds associated himself with racists and anti-Semites, most notably the hatemongering conspiracy theorist Reverend Gerald L.K. Smith, who he regarded as a patriot. He also blamed Jews for their plight in Europe, asking rhetorically whether their situation would have come about if “they were good citizens…if they had not impoverished these lands, or if they had not conspired against their governments” (Sachar, 479). Unfortunately for Reynolds, Smith was not his worst association. In 1939, he accepted the vice chairmanship of a lobbying group called Make Europe Pay Its War Debts, which unbeknownst to him, was a Nazi front run by propagandist George Sylvester Viereck and the organization’s secretary-treasurer, Prescott Dennett, both paid agents. He aided the organization by introducing a joint resolution in the Senate to acquire British islands to pay the nation’s World War I debts. After the United States’ entry into World War II, Reynolds knew he was toast and chose not to run for reelection in 1944.

  1. Brock Adams (1927-2004)

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Brock Adams had a long career in Washington, serving in the House from Washington from 1965 to 1977 and as Secretary of Transportation under President Jimmy Carter from 1977 to 1979. This background made him quite qualified to be a senator, and he defeated Republican Slade Gorton for reelection in 1986. He was not a particularly impressive Senator regarding accomplishments, but what makes him stand out is that while publicly he stood as an advocate for women’s rights issues, he was exposed as a serial abuser of women. In 1988, Kari Tupper, a family friend, alleged that Adams had drugged and sexually molested her in 1987. Soon, at least eight more women came out about Adams’s behavior, which ranged from aggressive sexual harassment to drugging and rape, with at least one incident allegedly having occurred during his tenure as Secretary of Transportation. Their stories were backed up by associates, family members, and friends of the women who corroborated the circumstances. Their stories also were not of partisan motivation, as most of the accusers were politically active Democrats. His former secretary for over ten years stated that she would warn new female staff members about him and his female employees referred to his behavior towards women as “Brock’s problem” (Gilmore, Nalder, Pryne, & Boardman). Adams chose not to run for reelection in 1992.

  1. Theodore Bilbo (1877-1947)

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Many of these terrible senators served one term or less, but not so with Bilbo. A lawyer by profession, he had had a long career in Mississippi politics including a controversial term as governor, which was filled with racism and corruption allegations. In 1934, he was elected to the Senate and proved a loyalist for FDR. He backed his New Deal programs and voted against killing his infamous “court-packing plan”. Bilbo was generally regarded as trouble for his extreme racial views, thus the Democrats placed him on what was considered the least important committee, the D.C. Committee. Bilbo advocated for disenfranchisement of blacks in all the United States and for deporting them to Liberia. Both views were considered extreme at the time, even in the South. Yet, before American involvement in World War II, Bilbo was often recruited as a stump speaker for other Democratic candidates across the country.

Bilbo’s attitudes would start to catch up with him during World War II. Since as a country we were fighting Nazis, more people began to connect the dots between what Hitler promoted and what Bilbo promoted. He didn’t confine his bigotry: he also wrote a letter back to an Italian American critic of his opposition to civil rights legislation with the opener, “My Dear Dago”, which he refused to apologize for after earning public criticism (LaGumina, 156). In 1946, Bilbo really did himself in when he admitted KKK membership, openly advocated voter intimidation, and implied that violence should be employed to prevent black GIs from voting. Actual violence followed these words against blacks who attempted to vote in Mississippi. He was reelected, but the newly convened Senate refused to seat him. In addition to charges of voter intimidation, evidence was presented that Bilbo accepted illegal gifts from construction firms that he had helped secure war contracts, including a new Cadillac, a swimming pool, a private roadway, and the excavation of a lake around his mansion. Bilbo, who was already ill with throat cancer, died in 1947 before the case on his seating could be concluded. In the Mississippi State Capitol his statue sits in a room frequently used by members of the legislature’s Black Caucus and some of them use its outstretched arm as a coat rack.

References

Best, G.D. (2005). Peddling panaceas: Popular economists in the New Deal era. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers.

Retrieved from https://books.google.com/books?id=xOyFdAvDxsIC&pg=PA84&lpg=PA84

Brock Adams Quits Senate Race Amid Sex Misconduct Allegations. (1992, March 2). The New York Times.

Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/1992/03/02/us/brock-adams-quits-senate-race-amid-sex-misconduct-allegations.html

Dedman, B. (2010, June 29). The Clarks: an American story of wealth, scandal and mystery. NBC News.

Retrieved from http://www.nbcnews.com/id/35470011/ns/business-local_business/t/clarks-american-story-wealth-scandal-mystery/#.W-zpPuJRfmE

Dreyer, D.J. (2013, December 4). Indiana Judges Association: ‘You can’t eat the Constitution’. TheIndianaLawyer.com

Retrieved from https://www.theindianalawyer.com/articles/32956-indiana-judges-association-you-cant-eat-the-constitution

Edgerton, K. (2014). William Clark, The Copper King. The Montana Professor 24.1.

Retrieved from https://mtprof.msun.edu/Spr2014/edger.html

Fleegler, R.L. (2013). Theodore G. Bilbo and the Decline of Public Racism, 1938-1947. The Journal of Mississippi History.

Retrieved from https://www.mdah.ms.gov/new/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/bilbo.pdf

Goldfield, D.R. (1990). Black, white, and southern: Race relations and southern culture, 1940 to the present. Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University Press.

Retrieved from https://books.google.com/books?id=kA5nmtQx-0sC&pg=PA197&lpg=PA197#v=onepage&q&f=false

Gilmore, S., Nalder, E., Pryne, E., & Boardman, D. (1992, March 1). 8 More Women Accuse Adams — Allegations of Two Decades of Sexual Harassment, Abuse – And A Rape. The Seattle Times.

Retrieved from http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=19920301&slug=1478550#_ga=2.141468210.1844089272.1508259121-392416759.1433348675

Green, G.N. O’Daniel, Wilbert Lee (Pappy). Texas State Historical Association.

Retrieved from https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fod11

Jeansonne, G. (1996). Women of the far right: The mothers’ movement and World War II. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press.

Retrieved from https://books.google.com/books?id=B7JZoQuU3eMC&pg=PA35&lpg=PA35#v=onepage&q&f=false

Jillson, C. (2018). Lone star tarnished: A critical look at Texas politics and public policy. New York, NY: Routledge.

LaGumina, S.J. (2006). The humble and the heroic: Wartime Italian Americans. Youngstown, NY: Cambria Press.

Retrieved from https://books.google.com/books?id=cSFchNAv-lkC&pg=PA156&lpg=PA156#v=onepage&q&f=false

Moore, W.V. (2016, May 7). Blease, Coleman Livingston. South Carolina Encyclopedia.

Retrieved from http://www.scencyclopedia.org/sce/entries/blease-coleman-livingston/

Offers “Nigger” Poem. (1929, June 18). The Evening Tribune.

Retrieved from https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=hO1gAAAAIBAJ&sjid=uWMNAAAAIBAJ&pg=3029,5898411

Pleasants, J.M. (2000). Buncombe Bob: The life and times of Robert Rice Reynolds. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press.

Sachar, H.M. (1992). A history of the Jews in America. New York, NY: Knopf.

Retrieved from

https://books.google.com/books?id=DeFsAAAAQBAJ&pg=PA479&lpg=PA479

Senator Demands End of Quota Immigration; Asks Restrictions on Visitors. (1942, September 23). Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Retrieved from

https://www.jta.org/1942/09/23/archive/senator-demands-end-of-quota-immigration-asks-restrictions-on-visitors

The Election Case of Theodore G. Bilbo of Mississippi (1947). U.S. Senate.

Retrieved from https://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/common/contested_elections/126Theodore_Bilbo.htm

The Election Case of William A. Clark of Montana (1900). U.S. Senate.

Retrieved from https://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/common/contested_elections/089William_Clark.htm

The Election Case of William Lorimer of Illinois (1910; 1912). U.S. Senate.

Retrieved from

https://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/common/contested_elections/095William_Lorimer.htm

 

The Abdication of Congressional Responsibility

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Source: The Concord Coalition

I am always happy when I can find a subject to write about that makes me really unhappy, and my writing today was inspired by an article that reported that 86% of our spending is now automatic, or legally mandated. This is a combination of primarily entitlement spending and interest payments on debt. I learned in my government classes (as did you if you were paying attention) that one of Congress’s chief responsibilities is controlling the purse of government. Now they control only 31% of it, which should be an outrage to anyone who believes in the separation of powers.

Where did the massive expansion of presidential powers begin? With that epic game-changer FDR of course! It should at this point be my motto to say that “It all started with Roosevelt”, because for modern politics its mostly true. Roosevelt was fortunate to have a Speaker of the House so willing to kowtow to whatever he wanted in Illinois’ Henry Rainey, who left the drafting of legislation to FDR’s “Brain Trust”. Unprecedented peacetime authority was extended to the president in signature New Deal legislation and in 1934, Congressional power was permanently abdicated on trade with the Reciprocal Trade Act, which although had the impact at the time of tariff reduction, the powers of the law are now being used by President Trump to raise them. This law ended the back and forth that would occur with trade between Republican and Democrat administrations. A Republican Administration would bring either tariff increases or very, very minimal tariff reductions such as with the Payne-Aldrich Act. A Democratic administration would lower tariffs and enact income taxes to make up for revenue loss. This trend of power sacrifices was continued with his successor, Jo Byrns of Tennessee, when Congress passed House Resolution 117 in 1935, which gave the president funds for work relief with no strings attached, and he used this authority to create the Works Progress Administration. One objector to this measure was Dewey Short, the sole Republican representative from Missouri, who as one of the most masterful orators to ever set foot in Congress, spoke before the institution in a way that gained national press attention:

I deeply and sincerely regret that this body has degenerated into a supine, subservient, soporific, superfluous, supercilious, pusillanimous body of nit-wits, the greatest ever gathered beneath the dome of our National Capitol, who cowardly abdicate their powers and, in violation of their oaths to protect and defend the Constitution against all of the Nation’s enemies, both foreign and domestic, turn over these constitutional prerogatives, not only granted but imposed upon them, to a group of tax-eating, conceited, autocratic bureaucrats – a bunch of theoretical, intellectual, professional nincompoops out of Columbia University, at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue-who were never elected by the American people to any office and who are responsible to no constituency. These brain trusters and ‘new dealers’ are the ones who wrote this resolution, instead of the Members of this House whose duty it is, and whose sole duty it is, to draft legislation (Wiley, 1984).

Despite this rousing speech, the resolution passed easily, with most sticking to their guns. The powers of Congress have also been increasingly taken by the federal bureaucracy: the Social Security Act and all the programs that fell under it required the hiring of an army of federal employees to enact and interpret the law. The war powers of the president also expanded during this time, and although a formal declaration of war was made by Congress against members of the Axis, major and minor, this would be the last time such a formal declaration was made. Although there have been resolutions for military action that have effectively substituted a declaration of war, it is still a surrender of power and presidents have considered it a formality to maintain the illusion of Congressional power, not a requirement.

Medicare and Medicaid: Confiscation of Congressional Spending Powers at Congress’s Consent

The United States could have taken the single payer path and established their own NHS had the Wagner-Murray-Dingell bill, a forgotten part of President Truman’s mostly unsuccessful Fair Deal package, passed. However, this legislation had no support from Republicans and strong opposition from Southern Democrats, preventing its adoption. American progressives figured they needed to take a gradualist approach and began pushing for Medicare. Although opponents Sen. Robert Kerr (D-Okla.) and House Ways and Means Committee chair Wilbur Mills (D-Ark.) tried to stop Medicare through the 1960 Kerr-Mills Act, which provided funds to states to form their own programs covering medical care for the elderly, it was but a mere delay. The 1964 election produced the Great Society Congress, which had enough liberal Democrats to counteract conservative opposition to Medicare.

The central opponents in the Democratic Party were by this time neutralized: Kerr had died on New Year’s Day 1963 and Mills ultimately caved to the wishes of liberal Democrats on this matter even though as an expert on taxes and budgets, he knew that Medicare and Medicaid would have sustainability issues and would consume increasing amounts of the federal budget. These programs themselves have reduced Congressional power as more money is devoted to maintaining them, leaving less and less policy options open for Congress. In 1968, 66% of spending was discretionary. By 2018, the figure had dwindled to 31%. Congress has very little power to solve our budgetary issues unless they change laws on entitlements, which they are not inclined to do as it would cause an enormous political stink. Yet such an action is necessary if we want the federal government to have other functions than provide entitlements and national defense and what’s more, to prevent Social Security’s insolvency in 2035.

Congress Strikes Back: The War Powers Resolution and the Impoundment Control Act

The Vietnam War produced a lot of dissension, and Democrats, who had been willing to let Roosevelt and Truman have tremendous leeway on foreign policy especially when the latter went to war in Korea without Congressional approval, were now having second thoughts about executive power as the Vietnam War raged on, and this was especially so when Nixon was president and expanded the war to Cambodia and Laos. In 1973, Congress passed the War Powers Resolution, which some critics thought an unconstitutional power grab by the legislative branch. This law allows the president to take military action but requires they get approval from Congress if the action is not completed in 60 days. How effective this has been in actually reducing presidential power is disputed.

From the first day George Washington was in office up until Nixon, presidents had the power to impound funds appropriated by Congress. However, President Nixon used impoundment extensively and selectively to the point the Democratic Congress considered it abusive. In 1974, Congress passed the Budget Control Act, which contained in it the Impoundment Control Act of 1974, which weakened presidential powers to the point that the president could ask Congress to rescind appropriated funds, but Congress has seldom considered such requests. Efforts have been made to reassert presidential budget control power with the proposal for a line-item veto, but the Supreme Court ruled this proposal unconstitutional.

Gulf War and Gulf War II: Congressional Support Ideal, But Optional

Although both George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush sought and received resolutions of support from Congress for committing troops to Iraq, both thought that going to Congress would simply be a good idea, not mandatory because it technically isn’t a “declaration of war” despite the United States engaging open hostilities with another nation through the use of arms, which is another way of saying “war”! George H.W. Bush sent the resolution to Congress simply to have it stamped with approval and nothing more, as he claimed he could send forces in because he had built up a multi-state coalition to do so (Keller, 2018). When Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) proposed in 2002 issuing a declaration of war on Iraq instead of a resolution, Congressional leaders dismissed it out of hand even though U.S. operations would continue there until 2010. George W. Bush initially hesitated to even bring the resolution before Congress, but did so for reasons of optics, not obligation. At least the Bushes kept up the illusion, Clinton didn’t even bother with airstrikes in Kosovo, and even continued on after the House rejected approval, and likewise President Trump didn’t seek Congressional approval for Syrian airstrikes. As Russell Riley, head of the Presidential Oral History Program at the University of Virginia states, “Since 1973, there are these games that go on. Everyone knows what will happen: the president will make noises about consultation with Congress, and then will pretty much do what he wants” (Keller, 2018).

The Problem of Congressional Loss of Power

The problem of this loss of power is quite clear: it corrupts the integrity of the separation of powers in the name of convenience. The American cult following of the notion of the supreme executive has been aided and abetted by historians who have biases for presidents who expand their powers and go to war (successfully, that is). Congress is supposed to be the body for the people, and the people’s influence is now restricted to 14% of the budget, and unless that’s what the people really want, it subverts the idea that they are in control. What’s more, Congress lacks incentive to take its powers back in the current day and age. When a Republican is in power Republicans in Congress will be unwilling to rollback presidential powers, and when a Democrat is in power, Democrats in Congress will be eager to go along with expansions (ex.: Dreamers order). If the Trump presidency is the rolling disaster its critics claim, how about they reassert some power and do so more than investigations? Congress currently has bottom of the barrel approval ratings and yet it is afraid to take back real institutional power. What are they afraid of? That they’ll lose that 10-15% that constitutes their fanbase? More probably, they are afraid of crossing any president that happens to be in their own party, lest a primary endorsement be denied. In 1938, state Democrats actually resented Franklin D. Roosevelt, one of the most popular presidents in history, trying to get involved in their primaries and mostly gave him a black eye on that matter! I am now about to advocate a position that probably will be as popular as gonorrhea: give Congress more power.

The Way Out: A Bipartisan Coalition

Given the problem I have written, the only exit from this situation will be to convince certain groups of Democrats and Republicans that they should stand together against any further expansion of executive power and even take back some powers for Congress. While I would normally think that the super stubborn Freedom Caucus would be up to such a task, the trouble is that a significant portion of them are reflexive Trump defenders, so any notion of reducing executive powers while he is president goes out the window, lest they attract the ire of Carlson, Hannity, or his rabid fan base. While Democrats may be gung ho about reducing the current president’s powers, expect all enthusiasm for it to dissipate with the next Democratic president as they sure didn’t seem to mind when Obama expanded his powers in the name of contravening the Republican Congress. Let’s also not forget that their base continues to push expanded presidential powers, as they seem to regard Trump as merely an aberration in how federal power could be misused. “Federalize everything” seems to be their motto generally, unless its immigration under the current president, a function that they wanted to insist was federal when Arizona wanted to further enforce immigration law. To ask for a coalition that stands independent of presidents is a tall, and perhaps even impossible order in this day and age, but if we are serious about restoring the separation of powers to what it was meant to be, tall orders are in order! And who knows, maybe, just maybe, Congress can get a bump in its approval ratings for asserting itself.

References

Dean, J. (2002, August 30). President needs congressional approval to declare war on Iraq. CNN.

Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2002/LAW/08/columns/fl.dean.warpowers/index.html

Government-Wide Inventory of Accounts with Spending Authority and Permanent Appropriations, Fiscal Years 1995 to 2015. (2018, November 29). U.S. Government Accountability Office.

Retrieved from https://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-19-36?utm_campaign=usgao_email&utm_content=daybook&utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery

Keller, K. (2018, May 14). An Unlikely Hardliner, George H.W. Bush Was Ready to Push Presidential Powers. Smithsonian Magazine.

Retrieved from

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/unlikely-hardliner-george-h-w-bush-was-ready-push-presidential-powers-180969017/

Mandatory Spending Growth Means the Budget Debate Is Increasingly Focused on a Shrinking Part of the Budget. (2017, September 18). The Concord Coalition.

Retrieved from https://www.concordcoalition.org/blog-post/mandatory-spending-growth-means-budget-debate-increasingly-focused-shrinking-part-budget

Wiley, R.S. (1984). Dewey J. Short vs. The New Deal. White River Valley Historical Quarterly, 8(8).

Retrieved from https://thelibrary.org/lochist/periodicals/wrv/V8/N8/S84k.htm

 

The Kentucky Duo: John Sherman Cooper and Thruston B. Morton

 

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/7/7f/JohnShermanCooper.jpg/220px-JohnShermanCooper.jpg

John Sherman Cooper

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/ee/Thruston_B_Morton.jpg

Thruston B. Morton

Among the states, Kentucky currently has a substantial seat at the power table as one of its senators, Republican Mitch McConnell, is Majority Leader. Its other senator, Rand Paul, carries national influence as well as the chamber’s spokesman for the GOP’s libertarian wing. While for presidential elections and most congressional elections it is not in question that the state will vote Republican, the state has a long history as a Democratic bastion that dates to dissatisfaction with the Lincoln Administration, as Kentucky was a slave state. Although the GOP started to make headway at the turn of the century, successful statewide Republican politicians were few and far between, and none of the senators they got elected won second terms. Republicans had a stronghold in Eastern Kentucky, a land known for bourbon, coal mining, and blood feuds but usually found little success elsewhere. The political scene slowly changed after World War II as two figures emerged to challenge the scene: John Sherman Cooper (1901-1991) and Thruston B. Morton (1907-1982).

In 1945, Senator A.B. “Happy” Chandler resigned office to be Commissioner of Baseball. The following year, Republican John Sherman Cooper was elected to finish his term. He had been a judge who had been known during the Great Depression as sympathetic to the plight of the poor; Cooper even suffered a nervous breakdown over the poverty of the people who came before him. From the very beginning, he proved a maverick (he voted only 51% of the time with his party in the 80th Congress) much to the frustration of conservative leader Senator Robert Taft, who demanded after his first two votes went against the party, “Are you a Republican or a Democrat? When are you going to start voting with us?” Cooper replied, “If you’ll pardon me, I was sent here to represent my constituents, and I intend to vote as I think best” (Krebs, 1991). This quote defined his career and won him many supporters. Cooper was not a skilled public speaker and tended to work behind the scenes, thus his independence was of central value. 1946 also brought victory for Republican Thruston Morton, who defeated Democrat Emmet O’Neal for reelection in the 3rd district (Louisville). Morton also proved somewhat independent, but was more to the right than Cooper. Both were supporters of foreign aid measures and embraced the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan. Despite Cooper’s independence and gaining popularity, he lost reelection to Congressman Virgil Chapman in 1948, as it was a Democratic year. In two years, he had gained the respect of his colleagues to the point that President Truman appointed him as a delegate to the United Nations General Assembly and there he participated in the crafting of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Morton, on the other hand, won reelection and would serve in the House until 1953, after which he worked for the Eisenhower Administration to lobby Congress on foreign policy.

Opportunity Knocks for Cooper

In 1951, Chapman, a severe alcoholic, was killed in a car crash. Cooper’s chance to return to the Senate had come, and he won the election to complete his term in 1952 despite Eisenhower losing the state. Although Cooper was popular, in 1954 former Majority Leader and Vice President Alben W. Barkley wanted back in the Senate. He was quite possibly the only Democrat who could have beaten him, and did so. President Eisenhower subsequently appointed Cooper Ambassador to India and Nepal.

John Sherman Cooper had a bizarre sort of “luck” if you choose to call it that, as Barkley didn’t last long in his final go in the Senate. In 1956, he died while making a speech on the Senate floor at the age of 78. As Cooper did before, he won the election to complete the term of the man who beat him. That same year, Morton narrowly won election to the Senate in an upset, defeating Majority Whip Earle Clements. Also, unlike in 1952, Eisenhower won Kentucky in his second term run.

Senators Cooper and Morton

Eisenhower’s second term brought the issue of civil rights to the forefront of American political discussion, and both of them were strong advocates for the Civil Rights Act of 1957, voting against amendments weakening the bill. Both Cooper and Morton tended to favor budget cuts, but the former proved more willing to expand government functions and also often supported the interests of unions. In 1959, representing the liberal wing of the GOP, Cooper ran for the Minority Leader post, but the conservative Everett Dirksen of Illinois beat him by four votes. In 1960, he won reelection with a resounding 59.2% of the vote, making it the first time he as well as any other Republican won reelection to the Senate from the state. That year, Morton was on the list of contenders for vice president, but Nixon chose Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. He helped his party by serving as head of the Republican National Committee from 1959 to 1961, with the GOP making legislative gains in 1960. Two years later, Morton won reelection by over 5 points. The Republican Party in Kentucky had gained in significance by running two successful statewide politicians.

On the New Frontier, both Cooper and Morton supported expanded foreign aid but Cooper often supported Kennedy’s domestic agenda while Morton often opposed. For instance, Cooper supported Medicare, while Morton did not. Cooper, however, was not strictly liberal in his voting: he opposed the Kennedy Administration’s public works program, was skeptical of major housing programs, and favored constitutional amendments for school prayer and against “one man, one vote”. In 1963, President Lyndon B. Johnson named Cooper, a close Kennedy family friend, to the Warren Commission to investigate the assassination of President Kennedy. In 1964, the senators split on the signature anti-poverty legislation of the Johnson Administration, the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964: Cooper voted for, Morton against. Although Cooper and Morton had some disagreements with the content of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (they both voted against the section cutting off federal funds for discriminatory administration of programs and Morton voted against the employment discrimination section), they both played a role in the passage of the law, with Morton proposing a jury trial compromise for criminal contempt cases that likely saved the bill. Bear in mind, the bill was not popular in Kentucky: only 1 of Kentucky’s 7 representatives, all up for reelection that year, voted for the bill, but both senators voted for. It helped that neither Cooper or Morton were up for reelection that year, so they had more room to vote their consciences. Morton did his part for the GOP once again as he served that year as head of the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Vietnam and the End

In 1966, Cooper again won reelection, this time by 29 points. The Vietnam War troubled both men, and Cooper came out as a top foe of Nixon’s expansion of the war to Cambodia. He sponsored with Senator Frank Church (D-Idaho) the Cooper-Church Amendment in 1970, which if enacted would have cut off all funding for operations in Cambodia. A revised version passed that provided limitations, but not a cutoff of funding. As for Morton, he decided to give his support to Nelson Rockefeller in 1968 and chose not to run for reelection. Given that Republican Marlow Cook kept his seat in the election, Morton could have won another term, but he had grown depressed with the state of the country, particularly regarding urban riots. He had also fallen into poor health, which would continue to decline until his death in 1982. Cooper opted to retire in 1972, even though he could have easily won reelection and wasn’t too old to continue serving. He had tired of the Senate and was starting to lose his hearing. Even in political retirement, he was called upon on one more time to serve his country: President Gerald Ford appointed him Ambassador to East Germany. Cooper dedicated the remainder of his professional life to practicing law, retiring in 1989.

References

Bass, H.F. (2009). Historical dictionary of United States political parties. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, Inc.

Gaiter, D.J. (1982, August 15). Thruston B. Morton is Dead at 74; Served as Senator from Kentucky. The New York Times.

Retrieved from

https://www.nytimes.com/1982/08/15/obituaries/thruston-b-morton-is-dead-at-74-served-as-senator-from-kentucky.html

Krebs, A. (1991, February 23). John Sherman Cooper Dies at 89; Longtime Senator from Kentucky. The New York Times.

Retrieved from

https://www.nytimes.com/1991/02/23/obituaries/john-sherman-cooper-dies-at-89-longtime-senator-from-kentucky.html

Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.: A Flawed Hero for Civil Rights

Image result for Adam Clayton Powell Jr.

From 1901 to 1929, no black people served in Congress, and from 1929 to 1945 only one member of Congress was black. The three men who represented that majority black Chicago district, Republican Oscar De Priest and Democrats Arthur Mitchell and William Dawson, were all men closely tied with political machines. Mitchell and Dawson themselves had once been Republicans and proteges of De Priest. While all of them did help civil rights in their own ways, none of them provided the challenge to Jim Crow like Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.

Elected in 1944, Powell (1908-1972), a Baptist minister, made his presence known in Congress from the very start when he routinely challenged Southern lawmakers. He would repeatedly, for instance, try to sit as close as possible to John Rankin (D-Miss.), the chamber’s most outspoken racist and anti-Semite. Rankin, who had vowed not to sit next to blacks, would move in response. In one instance, the two men moved seats five times. Powell also challenged Rankin’s use of the word “nigger” on the House floor, which was supportive to the morale of black voters across the nation. He also successfully challenged the informal “whites only” policy of the House restaurant, which in practice would only serve blacks if they also happened to be members of Congress.

Starting in 1946, Powell would offer his “Powell Amendments” to federal legislation on education, which would prohibit aid to be extended to segregated schools.  One of two outcomes would result from its attachment to education legislation: 1. The education bill would be defeated as Southern legislators would unify against it. 2. The amendment’s meaning would be completely gutted in a conference committee. Powell’s efforts on this matter were often not appreciated by advocates for federal education – in one instance, one its supporters, Cleve Bailey (D-W.V.), grew so enraged he punched him in the jaw. A form of the Powell Amendment would become Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which applied to government programs generally.

On the issues Powell was a staunch leftist. While supporting the Fair Deal to the hilt, he objected to Truman’s anti-communist program, including on foreign policy, placing him ideologically with supporters of Henry Wallace’s 1948 run for president. In 1951, he and the chamber’s other black member, William Dawson (D-Ill.), managed to kill an effort to construct a veterans hospital that would only admit black people on the grounds that it was a perpetuation of Jim Crow. He again proved himself independent when in 1956 he endorsed Dwight Eisenhower for president because he regarded the Republican Party’s civil rights plank as superior to the Democratic plank that year. In 1958, he survived a Tammany Hall effort to defeat him in the Democratic primary. Despite his bucking of his party’s establishment, sometimes he came to its defense. In 1960, Martin Luther King Jr. planned to hold a march at the Democratic National Convention, and Powell threatened to tell the press of a homosexual affair between him and Bayard Rustin if he did not call it off. Powell was successful, and despite this little incident, King considered him an ally in the struggle for civil rights.

In 1961, Labor and Education Committee chairman Graham Barden (D-N.C.), a conservative segregationist, retired. While the ironclad seniority system of the time tended to benefit Southern Democrats like Barden, this time it benefited Powell, who became chair. As chair, he was a staunch supporter of the agendas of the Kennedy and Johnson Administrations on education. Powell came to the height of his power during the Great Society Congress, when he steered many Great Society bills to passage, as much of the legislation originated in his committee, including the Elementary and Secondary Education Act as well as an increase in the minimum wage. However, his ethics and absenteeism issues were catching up to him.

In 1958, he was indicted for income tax evasion and his trial had resulted in a hung jury. In 1963, a court ruled that he had committed slander against a constituent for alleging she was a “bag woman”, a courier for transferring money between politicians and racketeers. For failing to pay the court’s judgment he was subject to civil arrest in the state of New York. Since civil arrest orders couldn’t be served on Sundays, Powell only came to visit his district on Sundays. In 1967, it was discovered that he had been keeping his third wife on his payroll for six years and gave her a pay raise without her performing any work. Powell also often didn’t show for votes as he would regularly go on trips abroad at taxpayer expense or spend significant periods of time at his vacation home in Bimini. This absenteeism annoyed his constituency as did his abstention from the vote on the Voting Rights Act of 1965 as he didn’t think it strong enough.

In 1967, the House voted not to seat him after an investigation of his conduct revealed numerous ethics violations, and he was excluded for the 90th Congress. Powell challenged this exclusion in the Supreme Court and in the meantime became more strident in his views – less than two weeks before Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, he renounced non-violence and embraced the Black Power Movement. In 1969, the Supreme Court ruled his exclusion from Congress unconstitutional in Powell v. McCormack (1969), so he was seated in the 91st Congress, but with a fine and a loss of seniority. Although Powell had survived a challenge from Congress in the Supreme Court, his victory didn’t last: he lost by 200 votes in the 1970 Democratic primary as his constituents had turned him out in favor of Charles Rangel. To make matters worse for Powell, he was already ill with prostate cancer and his condition worsened after his defeat. He spent most of his remaining days in Bimini and died on April 4, 1972, aged 63.

Powell for many black Americans was a hero for his efforts on behalf of civil rights, but he was like the heroes of Ancient Greece in that he was a fatally flawed figure, and his flaws brought about his political downfall.

References

Powell Rebuffed in Court Fight Here. (1964, December 5). The New York Times.

Retrieved from

https://www.nytimes.com/1964/12/05/archives/powell-rebuffed-in-court-fight-here.html

Powell, Adam Clayton, Jr. The Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute.

Retrieved from

https://kinginstitute.stanford.edu/encyclopedia/powell-adam-clayton-jr

The Mixed Legacy of Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. (2016, February 15). The Arthur Ashe Legacy.

Retrieved from

https://arthurashe.ucla.edu/2016/02/15/the-mixed-legacy-of-adam-clayton-powell-jr/

The Most Comprehensive Civil Rights Debate: The Civil Rights Act of 1964

Image result for Civil Rights Act of 1964

On June 19, 1964, one of the most significant laws in American history passed the Senate. After the first time in history in which a cloture vote (end debate with 2/3 vote) succeeded against a civil rights filibuster, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 passed 73-27. Because I like to look under the surface about these matters, it is of great interest to me that the votes surrounding this law are so extensive in the Senate that it provides the best picture of examining legislator attitudes on civil rights we are ever likely to see. Before the vote for passage on the bill, a whopping 120 votes were taken on proposals regarding it, nearly all of them being efforts of opponents to weaken the bill. I will not inundate anyone with that many, so the ones I have judged the most significant proposals relating to the bill I have listed here:

  1. Delete Title VII

Sen. Sam Ervin (D-N.C.) amendment deleting Title VII, prohibiting racial, sexual, and religious discrimination by businesses.

Rejected 33-64: D 21-44; R 12-20, 6/9/64.

  1. Delete Title VI

Sen. Albert Gore (D-Tenn.) amendment deleting Title VI, which withdraws federal funds from programs that are administered in a discriminatory fashion.

Rejected 25-69: D 21-42; R 4-27, 6/10/64.

  1. Delete Title I

Sen. Sam Ervin (D-N.C.) amendment deleting Title I, prohibiting the discriminatory application of literacy tests for voting eligibility.

Rejected 16-69: D 16-40; R 0-29, 6/13/64.

  1. Delete Title II

Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.V.) amendment deleting Title II, prohibiting discrimination in public accommodations.

Rejected 23-63: D 18-38; R 5-25, 6/15/64.

  1. Prohibit Cutting Off School Funds in Absence of Court Order to Desegregate

Sen. Albert Gore (D-Tenn.) motion to recommit the Civil Rights Act of 1964 with instructions to report the bill back with an amendment stating that federal funds should not be withdrawn from any school district unless that district had disobeyed a court order to desegregate.

Rejected 25-74: D 24-42; R 1-32, 6/19/64.

  1. Civil Rights Act of 1964

Passage of the comprehensive civil rights bill prohibiting discrimination by businesses on the basis of race, sex, and religion, prohibiting discriminatory literacy tests, cutting off funds for programs administered in a discriminatory fashion, and prohibiting discrimination in public accommodations.

Passed 73-27: D 46-21; R 27-6, 6/19/64.

The vote of the Senate on these proposals:

 

0 0 0 0 0 0
1 2 3 4 5 6
ALABAMA
Hill (D) Y Y Y Y Y N
Sparkman (D) Y Y Y Y Y N
ALASKA
Bartlett (D) N N N N N Y
Gruening (D) N N N N N Y
ARIZONA
Hayden (D) N ? ? ? Y Y
Goldwater (R) Y ? ? Y N N
ARKANSAS
Fulbright (D) Y Y Y Y N
McClellan (D) Y Y Y Y Y N
CALIFORNIA
Engle (D) X X X X X Y
Kuchel (R) N N N N N Y
COLORADO
Allott (R) N N N N N Y
Dominick (R) N N N N N Y
CONNECTICUT
Dodd (D) N N N N N Y
Ribicoff (D) N N N N N Y
DELAWARE
Boggs (R) N N N N N Y
Williams (R) Y N N N N Y
FLORIDA
Holland (D) Y Y Y Y Y N
Smathers (D) Y Y Y Y N
GEORGIA
Russell (D) Y Y Y Y Y N
Talmadge (D) Y Y Y Y Y N
HAWAII
Inouye (D) N N N N N Y
Fong (R) N N N N N Y
IDAHO
Church (D) N N N N N Y
Jordan (R) N N N N N Y
ILLINOIS
Douglas (D) N N N N N Y
Dirksen (R) N N N X N Y
INDIANA
Bayh (D) N N N N N Y
Hartke (D) N N N ? N Y
IOWA
Hickenlooper (R) Y N N N N N
Miller (R) N N N N N Y
KANSAS
Carlson (R) N N N N N Y
Pearson (R) N N N N N Y
KENTUCKY
Cooper (R) N Y N X N Y
Morton (R) Y Y X N N Y
LOUISIANA
Ellender (D) Y Y Y Y Y N
Long (D) Y Y Y Y Y N
MAINE
Muskie (D) N N N N N Y
Smith (R) N N N N N Y
MARYLAND
Brewster (D) N N N X N Y
Beall (R) N N N N N Y
MASSACHUSETTS
Kennedy (D) N N N N N Y
Saltonstall (R) N X N N N Y
MICHIGAN
Hart (D) N N N N N Y
McNamara (D) N N X N N Y
MINNESOTA
Humphrey (D) N N N N N Y
McCarthy (D) N N N N N Y
MISSISSIPPI
Eastland (D) Y Y Y Y Y N
Stennis (D) Y Y Y Y Y N
MISSOURI
Long (D) N N N N N Y
Symington (D) N N N N N Y
MONTANA
Mansfield (D) N X X X N Y
Metcalf (D) N N N N N Y
NEBRASKA
Curtis (R) Y N N N N Y
Hruska (R) Y Y N N N Y
NEVADA
Bible (D) N N N N N Y
Cannon (D) N N N N N Y
NEW HAMPSHIRE
McIntyre (D) N N N N N Y
Cotton (R) Y N N Y N N
NEW JERSEY
Williams (D) N N N X N Y
Case (R) N N N N N Y
NEW MEXICO
Anderson (D) N N N N N Y
Mechem (R) Y Y X Y Y N
NEW YORK
Javits (R) N N N N N Y
Keating (R) N N N N N Y
NORTH CAROLINA
Ervin (D) Y Y Y Y Y N
Jordan (D) Y Y Y Y N
NORTH DAKOTA
Burdick (D) N N N N N Y
Young (R) N X N N Y
OHIO
Lausche (D) X N N N Y Y
Young (D) N N N N N Y
OKLAHOMA
Edmondson (D) N N N N N Y
Monroney (D) N Y N N N Y
OREGON
Morse (D) N N N N N Y
Neuberger (D) N N X N N Y
PENNSYLVANIA
Clark (D) N N N X N Y
Scott (R) N N N N N Y
RHODE ISLAND
Pastore (D) N N N N N Y
Pell (D) N N N X N Y
SOUTH CAROLINA
Johnston (D) Y Y Y Y Y N
Thurmond (D) Y Y Y Y Y N
SOUTH DAKOTA
McGovern (D) N N N N N Y
Mundt (R) Y N N N N Y
TENNESSEE
Gore (D) Y Y Y N Y N
Walters (D) Y Y Y Y N
TEXAS
Yarborough (D) N N ? ? Y Y
Tower (R) Y N N N N
UTAH
Moss (D) N N N N N Y
Bennett (R) Y N N Y N Y
VERMONT
Aiken (R) N N N N N Y
Prouty (R) N N N N N Y
VIRGINIA
Byrd (D) Y Y Y Y N
Robertson (D) Y Y Y N
WASHINGTON
Jackson (D) N N N N N Y
Magnuson (D) N N N N N Y
WEST VIRGINIA
Byrd (D) Y Y N Y Y N
Randolph (D) N N X N N Y
WISCONSIN
Nelson (D) N N N N N Y
Proxmire (D) N N N N N Y
WYOMING
McGee (D) N N N N N Y
Simpson (R) Y N N Y N N

 

Of the 27 senators opposed, 19 could be considered opposed to the bill in its entirety. All were Democrats from states of the former Confederacy, although Strom Thurmond would switch parties on September 16, 1964.

Of the Northern Democrats, all but Robert Byrd of West Virginia strongly favored the act, while of the Southern Democrats, all but Senators J. Howard Edmondson and Mike Monroney of Oklahoma and Ralph Yarborough of Texas opposed. Perhaps the strangest of the records was that of Albert Gore of Tennessee, who strongly opposed Title VI (cut off funds for discrimination), voted to delete Titles I (voting rights) and VII (employment discrimination), yet supported Title II (public accommodations) while voting against the bill. Standing in the middle of it all were the Republicans, who had two historical legacies to consider: their history as the Party of Lincoln and their history of staunch support for business. Minority Leader Everett Dirksen’s (R-Ill.) leadership on pushing the bill got all but six Republicans to vote for the bill, one of whom was Barry Goldwater of Arizona, who was running for president.

Of the six Republicans who voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964, only Ed Mechem of New Mexico was an opponent of cutting off government funding for discriminatory administration and none opposed prohibiting biased administration of literacy tests. The others opposed on the grounds of Titles II and VII, both of which covered the private sector. Southern Democrats had the most success swaying Republicans on Title VII, the employment discrimination part of the bill, as this was the part that could be most easily regarded as an extension of the New Deal and compared to the mandatory Fair Employment Practices Committee that the Conservative Coalition had killed fourteen years earlier.

In all, I am a big believer in votes being the most accurate way to ascertain ideology and beliefs among politicians, as opposed to their words. Unless there is a good documented reason as to why a politician voted other than belief, belief should be assumed.

P.S.: Because the “GOP was liberal back then” political mantra of the left is a pet peeve of mine, I must add here…

  1. The Senate GOP opposed the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 (the signature “War on Poverty” legislation) on a 22-10 vote on July 23, 1964.
  2. The Senate GOP opposed Medicare on a 28-5 vote on September 2, 1964.
  3. The Senate GOP opposed the “one man, one vote” standard of the Supreme Court in Reynolds v. Sims (1964) on a 26-6 vote on September 10, 1964.

References

HR. 7152. Ervin Amend. to Delete Title VII, The Fair Employment Section.

Retrieved from https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/88-1964/s300

HR. 7152. Gore Amend. to Delete Title VI, Covering w/drawl of Federal Funds From Areas Where the Programs Are Administered in a Discriminatory Fashion. Govtrack.

Retrieved from https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/88-1964/s305

HR. 7152. Ervin Amend. to Delete Title I, Covering Voting Rights. Govtrack.

Retrieved from https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/88-1964/s333

HR. 7152. Byrd Amend. to Delete All of Title II, Covering Public Accommodations.

Retrieved from https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/88-1964/s339

HR 7152. Gore Motion to Recommit to the Judiciary Comm. Govtrack.

Retrieved from https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/88-1964/s408

HR 7152. Passage. Govtrack.

Retrieved from https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/88-1964/s409

 

 

 

George H.W. Bush, RIP

Image result for George H.W. Bush

On November 30, 2018, the American people lost their 41st president, George H.W. Bush (1924-2018). He had a long career in politics, serving a variety of functions before his election as president and was a bona fide war hero. As a politician, Bush seemed to thrive more in appointed positions, as he performed quite well as Ambassador to the UN, U.S. Liaison to the Republic of China, and CIA director, which provided the real springboard for his executive ascension. His career running for elective office, however, was a bit rockier (and thus more interesting).

Bush’s record for election victories wasn’t great. In 1964 and 1970 he lost bids for the Senate in Texas, as the first time was a bad year for Texas Republicans and the second time he faced moderate Lloyd Bentsen instead of who he hoped to face, liberal Democrat Ralph Yarborough. In 1976 Ford passed on him for VP, and in 1980 he lost the GOP nomination for president. His successes included serving in Congress for four years, 1967-1971, and the conservative Americans for Constitutional Action gave him a 72% based on his voting record, indicating a moderate conservatism. The most notable thing he did was defy his constituency by voting for the Civil Rights Act of 1968, a highly risky move in his district, and defended his vote so well in front of an initially hostile audience that they gave him a standing ovation at the end of his speech (Updegrove). What won him friends and made people consider him as a president, however, was his public administration experience. As Vice President, he was loyal to Reagan and an able representative for his administration. Reagan had initially been unimpressed with Bush, but by 1988 he privately favored him to win the GOP presidential nomination.

Bush the President: Domestic Policy

George H.W. Bush subscribed to standard GOP economic views and often battled the Democratic Congress. Bush vetoed legislation forty four times, with one veto override. These included an increase in the minimum wage and a civil rights bill he feared was so stringent it would lead to businesses adopting racial quotas to avoid lawsuits. Some of his most notable achievements in this area, however, trended towards the left. Although the Americans with Disabilities Act achieved widespread acclaim as the magna carta for disability civil rights, it has its critics on the right as does the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990. However, the divergence that was toughest for the right to swallow was his walking back on his promise of “no new taxes”. The Democratic leadership pushed him to back increases on the income tax, alternative minimum tax, and payroll and excise taxes and he folded. In exchange, a “pay-as-you-go” process was established for discretionary spending and taxes. These increases angered the Republican base, and he lacked support from his party on this measure as the House Republicans voted against the president 126-47 with the Senate Republicans went 25-19 against. On domestic policy, Bush was overall mediocre in my estimation.

Bush the President: Foreign Policy and Loss

While Bush’s domestic policy wasn’t great, on foreign policy he was a strong president in my estimation. He put an end to the narco-state of dictator Manuel Noriega in Panama in 1989, which resulted in his imprisonment. Bush managed to court international support for the Gulf War to counter Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait and proved a smashing success. He aimed to create a “New World Order”, which here meant how the world’s nations would lead after the fall of the USSR, not an illuminati conspiracy. Unfortunately, his strength on foreign policy did not survive a mild recession and memories of going back on his word on taxes. In 1992, he lost a three-way election to Democrat Bill Clinton. Bush would subsequently engage in charitable causes such as providing aid for the victims of natural disasters along with former President Bill Clinton. The Points of Light Foundation he founded in 1990 continues to this day to assist those in need through voluntary service.

Bush also interestingly stands as a last in a number of ways. He was the last World War II veteran to be president, the last Republican to win the states of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, New Jersey, and Vermont, and the last of the “greatest generation” to be president. As of writing, he is also the last one term president.

Whatever you have to say about his politics, Bush was a good man and few men can claim to have achieved so much in his well-deserved 94 years of life.

References

Knott, S. George H.W. Bush: Domestic Affairs. Miller Center.

Retrieved from

https://millercenter.org/president/bush/domestic-affairs

Knott, S. George H.W. Bush: Foreign Affairs. Miller Center.

Retrieved from

https://millercenter.org/president/bush/foreign-affairs

Updegrove, M.K. (2018, April 11). The 1968 Fair Housing Act and the education of Congressman George Bush. The Hill.

Retrieved from

https://thehill.com/opinion/civil-rights/382266-the-1968-fair-housing-act-and-the-education-of-congressman-george-hw