On July 27, 2015, Vice President Joe Biden called a former senator to wish him a happy birthday, one that would be his last. Although Marlow Webster Cook (1926-2016) only served with Biden for two years in the Senate, the man made such a good impression on him as to warrant birthday phone calls. He also mentored Senator Mitch McConnell and Representative John Yarmuth (a Rockefeller Republican at the time, but now a staunchly liberal Democrat) who served as his aides.
In 1962, Cook was elected Jefferson County Judge (equivalent to County Executive) in an election that brought Republicans to power on a reform ticket. Part of this reform was making the city the first major one to have a public accommodations law south of the Mason-Dixon line. The Republicans elected on the reform ticket were not die-hard conservatives, rather moderate to moderate conservative. In 1967, he ran for the Republican nomination for Kentucky governor, but narrowly lost to the more conservative Barren County Judge Louie B. Nunn, whose campaign negatively capitalized on Cook’s Catholicism. He would, however, secure the endorsement of Republican Senator Thruston B. Morton to succeed him to public office and won in 1968 by nearly four points. Cook had campaigned for an escalation in the Vietnam War to win the votes of Wallace Democrats and he was in his victory the first Catholic to win an election statewide.
Although he had postured to the right for the Senate, he proved a moderate, especially in his first two years. Cook backed social welfare measures that the conservative wing opposed, such as food stamp expansion and enhanced unemployment insurance legislation. He also took a moderate course on busing, embracing a 1969 compromise on the subject whilst voting a preference to limit the practice. In 1969, Cook led the support for President Nixon’s nomination of Clement Haynsworth Jr. to the Supreme Court and defended him against claims of impropriety. However, he would join liberal Republicans in not backing Nixon’s next nominee, G. Harrold Carswell. True to his campaign message on Vietnam, he would oppose the Cooper-Church Amendment to stop funding for troops in Cambodia in 1970. However, Cook would later turn against continuing efforts in Vietnam. In 1973, he voted to override President Nixon’s veto of the War Powers Resolution.
As a senator from a tobacco producing state, he was a staunch supporter of the tobacco industry and after his time in the Senate he would represent the Tobacco Institute. In 1973, Cook voted against barring importation of Rhodesian chrome, as the only feasible substitute would be the USSR. The following year, he voted against the International Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. These votes were part of Cook’s usually anti-communist politics on foreign policy in his voting record, as with the latter anti-communists in the United States feared that the USSR would launch baseless claims against the US alleging genocide for propaganda purposes. Indeed, they could look back to the communist front Civil Rights Congress’ “We Charge Genocide” petition before the United Nations in December 1951, accusing the US of genocide over the treatment of American blacks by government and society.
Cook was highly popular with his colleagues and made friends with many, including as mentioned before Joe Biden. He would have easily won another term save for two things: Governor Wendell Ford was really popular and Richard Nixon was deeply unpopular in Kentucky in the wake of Watergate. Indeed, polling of the 1974 race indicated that Ford was the only Democrat who could beat Cook, and that he did by about 10 points. Cook’s MC-Index score was a 62%, indicating a moderate record. The next Republican senator from Kentucky would be none other than Mitch McConnell.
In his later years, Cook would dissent from his party on multiple notable occasions: in 1984, Cook endorsed his close friend Democrat Walter “Dee” Huddleston in his bid for reelection rather than McConnell. He likewise befriended the man who beat him, Wendell Ford. In 2004, Cook endorsed John Kerry over George W. Bush primarily over the Iraq War and in 2014, he criticized his former aide McConnell for his opposition to Obamacare, holding that McConnell should not focus on repealing Obamacare, rather on correcting flaws in the legislation (Courier Journal).
Upon Cook’s death, McConnell said of him, “Marlow Cook gave me my first real opportunity in politics, as state youth chairman for his successful Senate campaign. He gave me an important opportunity in government too, as chief legislative assistant – basically what we now call legislative director – in his Senate office. I worked there for two years. I recall that time fondly. I remain very grateful for it” (Courier Journal).
Marlow Cook, former senator, county judge, dies. (2016, February 4). The Courier-Journal.
Although Ketanji Brown Jackson is a first, she will not be approved by the Senate on similar lines to the Thurgood Marshall nomination in 1967, in which he was confirmed 69-11 with opposition limited to opponents of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. I wrote not too long ago on why this is, but her nomination in how the vote will break down bears much more resemblance to another first, that of the first Jewish justice in American history, Louis Brandeis.
The People’s Lawyer
Brandeis was a game changer pick for the Supreme Court, and his first of being Jewish was not even the half of it. He also was known as “The People’s Lawyer” for his progressive advocacy and his battling of big business. Of President Wilson’s three picks for the Supreme Court, Brandeis would prove to be his most notable and celebrated pick. Early in his adult life, he represented business clients and his thinking was within that of the Republican Party. However, in the 1890s he grew increasingly progressive in his views, similar to the journey that Robert La Follette took. In 1890, Brandeis drafted with Samuel Warren a Harvard Law Review article articulating a “right to privacy” which would be adopted by the Supreme Court in Griswold v. Connecticut (1965) in an opinion written by one of his many admirers, William O. Douglas. He ultimately switched to the Democratic Party in 1912 in support of Woodrow Wilson’s progressivism.
The Brandeis Brief
Louis Brandeis won a major victory in the Supreme Court when he presented what became known as the “Brandeis Brief” in the 1908 case Muller v. Oregon, which was revolutionary as he relied far more on scientific evidence and testimony from experts than legal argument, to the order of two pages for legal arguments and 110 pages for evidence and testimony (100). This approach got the praise of none other than Justice David J. Brewer, who had a well-founded reputation as a conservative. The approach of evidence being presented for segregation being unconstitutional in Brown v. Board of Education (1954) was based on the Brandeis Brief.
The Controversial Confirmation
In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson aimed for a double-hitter in his pick to the Supreme Court to succeed Charles Evans Hughes: he wanted a likeminded progressive and the first Jewish person to sit on the court. This nomination was deeply controversial both for his radicalism and that he was Jewish. Conservative senators denounced Brandeis as a radical for his views against big business and remembered bitterly his role against President Taft in the Ballinger-Pinchot controversy. Unlike today with Jackson, both The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal came out against him and denounced him as a “radical”, with the former holding “The Supreme Court, by its very nature, must be a conservative body; it is the conservator of our institutions, it protects the people against the errors of their legislative servants, it is the defender of the Constitution itself. To place upon the Supreme Bench judges who hold a different view of the function of the court, to supplant conservatism by radicalism, would be to undo the work of John Marshall and strip the Constitution of its defenses” (Constitution Center). Former President William Howard Taft as well as former Senator Elihu Root publicly opposed his nomination, regarding him as unfit to serve on the court. Taft went as far as to call the nomination “an evil and a disgrace” and six former presidents of the American Bar Association came out against the nomination (Constitution Center). The former president would ironically develop a good working relationship with Brandeis on the court. Senator Henry Cabot Lodge (R-Mass.), de facto leader of the Senate Republicans, was of the opinion that he was picked only because he was Jewish and was not qualified for the court. Some opponents of Brown Jackson have echoed this argument regarding her being a black woman because of Biden’s promise to pick a black woman beforehand. Senator George Sutherland (R-Utah) repeated a rumor that Brandeis had acted as counsel for United Drug Company, supposedly considered by the Justice Department as an illegal trust (Campbell). In another twist of irony, Sutherland too would join Brandeis on the Supreme Court. He faced multiple accusations about professional conduct largely based on hearsay, but these were either refuted or unproven.
Brandeis was one of two radicals that Wilson appointed to the Supreme Court, the other being John Hessin Clarke. It should be noted that although Brandeis’ nomination was controversial, the similarly progressive (although perhaps not as notoriously so) Clarke got a unanimous confirmation. This can be viewed as Clarke having had a history as an effective federal justice (while Brandeis was a trial lawyer) and possibly due to the fact that he was not Jewish. Louis Brandeis was confirmed 47-22 on a largely partisan basis, with Senators George Norris of Nebraska, Miles Poindexter of Washington, and Robert La Follette of Wisconsin voting for on the Republican side while only Nevada’s Francis Newlands voted against on the Democratic side. Republican Senators Moses Clapp of Minnesota and Asle Gronna of North Dakota paired for. The five Republicans who approved of Brandeis’ nomination were all on the progressive wing of the party. It is a testament to the influence of Wilson over Southern Democrats that there was not a single “nay” vote among them.
Brandeis would serve on the court for 23 years, and in he would stand as one of the most influential members in the history of the court as well as one of the more progressive members. He was one of the justices more inclined to defend the Roosevelt Administration’s laws (The Three Musketeers), but he had his limits: he voted to strike down the Frazier-Lemke Farm Mortgage Act and joined the unanimous court in striking down the National Industrial Recovery Act. As a classic progressive, Brandeis feared bigness in business and thought that it was possible for government to go too far in this direction as well. His influence on the law was such, however, that conservatives of the day were correct to fear his impact: he made possible the broad right to privacy adoption in the Constitution that Roe v. Wade (1973) has basis in, among other things. Justice William O. Douglas (1964) would later write on the confirmation battle, “Brandeis was a militant crusader for social justice whoever his opponent might be. He was dangerous not only because of his brilliance, his arithmetic, his courage. He was dangerous because he was incorruptible … [and] the fears of the Establishment were greater because Brandeis was the first Jew to be named to the Court”.
P.S.: I think Jackson will be confirmed 52-48, with Democrats being unanimous and Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine joining them. I believe this because only three Republican senators voted for her to be on the D.C. Circuit, and those were Murkowski, Collins, and Graham, and the latter will not be voting for her for this one.
Atwell, M.W. (2009). Louis Brandeis. The First Amendment Encyclopedia.
Modern American politics have been characterized by polarization. The least liberal Democrat is less conservative than the least conservative Republican in the present Congress. However, when President Biden was first elected to the Senate in 1972, things were not that way. Not at all. The parties had developed distinct wings, and even among those wings was a significant diversity of thought. To illustrate this, I’ve decided to play a game with my readers. That is, can you spot the Democrat and the Republican in the Senate Biden started in? I have provided the senators free of party identification at the bottom along with their modified (meaning pairs on legislation are counted towards their score) Americans for Constitutional Action scores for 1973 and 1974. These scores are based on 29 key votes from 1973 and 19 key votes from 1974, with 100 being most conservative. I’ll provide two freebies here because you will not guess them: James L. Buckley of New York is a Conservative-Republican, and Harry F. Byrd Jr. of Virginia is an Independent. I have also added President Nixon’s score based on votes in which his positions were recorded. The rest are either Democrats or Republicans. Some names might be recognizable, others not at all. Also, please don’t be a filthy cheater and look up these senators’ political parties before doing this. This is meant to educate how different politics has become and I’m interested in what people come up with for this! Also, to illustrate just how far back Biden’s career goes.
Today’s post is going to be of some really recent history, as this regards nominations by President Biden. When Josh Hawley of Missouri was one of only two senators to vote against Lloyd Austin as Secretary of Defense at the start of Biden’s presidency and then voted against Pete Buttigieg as Secretary of Transportation, I was wondering if this would be his thing now, being the senator who votes against all of his nominees as a talking point for the 2024 GOP presidential primary. I decided to explore my curiosity here by examining confirmation votes of 145 Biden nominees in 2021, and I discovered a greater picture than Hawley’s opposition.
Least to Most Supportive of Biden Nominees, Republicans…
Republicans: Hawley (4%), Tuberville, Scott of Florida, and Cruz (6%), Cotton (9%), Paul (10%), Shelby (11%), Braun (12%), Blackburn (13%), Lankford (14%), Marshall (15%), Boozman, Rubio, and Hagerty (16%), Lee (18%), Kennedy and Scott of South Carolina (20%), Daines, Sasse, and Lummis (21%), Barrasso (22%), Ernst, Cassidy, and Hoeven (24%), Inhofe and Johnson (25%), Risch and Thune (26%), Sullivan (27%), Crapo and Cramer (28%), Hyde-Smith (30%), Wicker (31%), Moran and Toomey (32%), McConnell and Fischer (35%), Young (37%), Tillis and Cornyn (42%), Blunt (45%), Grassley and Capito (48%), Burr (49%), Romney (50%), Rounds (51%), Portman (52%), Graham (68%), Murkowski (81%), and Collins (88%).
As I thought, the senator who has stood out most in opposition to President Biden’s nominees is Josh Hawley. While he didn’t vote against ALL of Biden’s nominees, he only voted for his nominees 4% of the time in 2021. Runner-ups are Tommy Tuberville of Alabama, Rick Scott of Florida, and Ted Cruz of Texas at 6%. Hawley and Cruz are thought to have their eye on the presidency in the future, and their high levels of opposition seem geared at least in part at winning over Republican primary voters. The four men all voted to sustain the electoral count objection to Pennsylvania and with the exception of Scott voted to sustain the Arizona objection. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has voted 35% of the time for Biden’s nominees, and Minority Whip John Thune of South Dakota has done so 26% of the time.
The Middle-of-the-Roaders and Supporters
Several Republicans with less partisan reputations voted over 40% of the time for Biden’s nominees. Fromer presidential candidate Mitt Romney of Utah, often reviled by conservatives as he often highlights his dissents with other Republicans for the press, voted for Biden’s nominees 50% of the time in 2021. This, however, is not the highest support level among Republicans. There are five who exceed Romney: Rounds of South Dakota (51%), Portman of Ohio (52%), Graham of South Carolina (68%), Murkowski of Alaska (81%) and Collins of Maine (88%). While support and opposition to nominees among Republicans certainly is correlated with ideological conservatism, it seems more a matter of how strong partisanship is among Republicans.
The reason I focus more on Republican opposition than what Democrats did is that what Democrats have done with nominees is pretty boring, but in this boredom lies a key point of interest. Namely, that there was almost no dissent, and the leading dissenter who wasn’t a Republican was none other than Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who voted for Biden’s nominees a mere 98% of the time!
Least to Most Supportive of Biden Nominees, Democrats…
All 100% except Markey, Warren, Menendez, Merkley, and Manchin (99%).
Independents (who caucus with the Democrats and are counted as Democrats in the chart):
Sanders (98%) and King (100%).
As you can see, no Democratic senator on more than one occasion voted against a Biden nominee in 2021. Interestingly enough, the people who opted to dissent once mostly came from the left pole of the party. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, while being reviled by many Democrats for some critical dissents (living wage, filibuster), voted for Biden nominees 100% of the time. While I could say that this is evidence of Democratic partisanship, I would be interested in investigating in a later post how Republicans and Democrats addressed Trump nominees in 2017 to compare to this post. I get the sense that there’s more unity generally in support of presidential nominees among the president’s party than there is opposition among the opposing party as a norm. Nominee support/opposition I think of as a measure of partisanship from the opposing party more than anything else.
One of the major figures of Delaware’s history post-World War II was James Caleb Boggs (1909-1993), who went by “Cale”. Running as a war vet and with a Republican wave, he was elected to Congress in 1946. During the Truman years, Boggs voted as a conservative and even opposed the Truman Doctrine in his first year. He, like fellow Republican John J. Williams, staunchly opposed price and rent controls and consistently voted to weaken and end them. However, Boggs also was supportive of the Far Eastern Assistance Act in 1950 and voted for a mandatory Fair Employment Practices Committee. The latter vote would presage his unwavering support of civil rights legislation in the 1960s. In 1952, Boggs opposed the creation and funding of the Cox Committee to investigate tax-exempt institutions. His MC-Index score during his House years was an 85%, or solid conservative. That year, he was elected Delaware’s governor.
Presiding Over Turbulent Times
When Boggs was elected to the governorship in 1952, by four points, Delaware was a segregated state. However, in 1954, Brown v. Board of Education gave the impetus for desegregation in the state. Boggs would successfully and peacefully preside over the state’s desegregation, an issue that was nonetheless controversial in the state. In his 1956 election he prevailed again by four points, his handling of the issue of desegregation not really winning or losing anyone. In 1960, Boggs decided to jump from the governorship to the Senate, running against incumbent Democrat J. Allen Frear Jr., one of the more conservative people in the party. He prevailed by a little over a point despite losing in Democratic stronghold Kent County and Republican stronghold Sussex County, with his numbers in New Castle making up for his losses.
High Times: Boggs as Senator
Cale Boggs proved an exceedingly popular senator and stood as a moderate. Civil rights advocates worked with him given his strong support of civil rights legislation. His reaction to the Great Society was overall mixed, most notably he voted for Medicare but voted against the Economic Opportunity Act in 1964. Boggs voted for a school prayer amendment to the Constitution in 1966 to undo the Supreme Court decision Engel v. Vitale (1962) but twice voted against an amendment meant to undo the Supreme Court decision Reynolds v. Sims (1964), which required that state legislative districts be apportioned on no grounds other than rough equality in population, being one of only three Republican senators to do so. Delaware voters proved their appreciation for his moderation, and he won reelection in 1966 by 18 points, winning all three of Delaware’s counties.
Among other things, Boggs was also strongly supportive of environmental legislation, having sponsored the Water Quality Act in 1965. He remained strongly supportive of civil rights measures in the 1970s, voting to defend busing. Although he had been a critic of economic controls as a member of the House, Boggs proved supportive of strong minimum wage legislation, voting against Minority Leader Dirksen’s (R-Ill.) amendment in 1966 exempting small retailers from coverage and against Senator Taft’s (R-Ohio) amendment in 1972 reducing the increase and limiting coverage. However, Boggs was not supportive of certain measures to expand voter registration, such as registration by postcard. He also supported the Nixon Administration’s policies on the Vietnam War.
By 1972, Boggs had tired of public office, but President Nixon, wanting to keep Boggs’ seat Republican by avoiding a potentially bruising primary fight, convinced him to run for a third term. When young attorney Joe Biden entered the race, it was initially thought that Boggs was unbeatable. Initial polls put Boggs way ahead of Biden, but the newbie ran an energetic campaign and decided that instead of using Boggs’ record against him as his moderation proved popular, he ran against him on age. Boggs was 63 years old while Biden was just shy of 30, and some examples of Biden’s ads against Boggs included:
“To Cale Boggs an unfair tax was the 1948 poll tax”; “To Joe Biden an unfair tax is the 1972 income tax.”
“Cale Boggs’ generation dreamed of conquering polio. Joe Biden’s generation dreams of conquering heroin. Joe Biden. He understands what’s happening today.”
“In 1950 Cale Boggs hoped to make Americans safe from Stalin. In 1972 Joe Biden hopes to make Americans safe from criminals. We’ve got a new crime problem in this country. We need some new thinking” (Erickson).
Boggs lost by 1.5% and only won Sussex County, which to this day remains the state’s Republican stronghold. His MC-Index score for his Senate time was a 60%, or moderate. His lifetime score was 68%, or moderate conservative.
1972 ADA Voting Record. (1972). Americans for Democratic Action.
One figure I have developed a morbid interest in is the late Willis Carto (1926-2015). It is astounding to me how many connections he formed throughout the right in his early years while concealing the dark purpose of establishing a right-wing dictatorship that would be both racist (Carto stood for segregation and deportation of blacks to Africa) and anti-Semitic (Jews were always his top target) as a matter of policy. In other words, Carto’s aims fit perfectly with what some on the American left think about the true aims of the American right. With the help of FBI files on him as well as his personal correspondence and several exposes, I will paint a picture of an extremist whose fundraising and advertising ability were formidable. This is an expansion from my July 24, 2019 dated post, “Liberty Lobby: A Sinister and Cryptic Interest Group”. I have found so much more since writing that post, and I’ve been meaning to write on it for some time.
From the beginning of his adulthood, Carto’s deep-seated prejudice was clear. Although one source I read said that Carto got his views from traveling across the country selling insurance, the truth is that they developed earlier. In his letter to conservative journalist Westbrook Pegler dated May 18, 1948, he inquired what his view was on blacks and went on to express the following sentiments on black people, “There is one thing I believe to be true which you have never stated directly or hinted strongly. Perhaps it is even too big for you. Maybye you do not know the truth of it. It is this: that the negro race in America is not entitled to share American liberties and privileges because they have not proved themselves worthy of them. I base the statement on their cowardly conduct in Italy with the 92nd Infantry Division, their failure to assert the rights denied them in America, and their racial history of cowardliness and servitude under dozens of other races” (Carto, 1948). Carto’s statements reveal an ignorance of acts and movements by black Americans to assert their rights denied them that had already existed by that time, including that the NAACP already existed, slave revolts, and black participation in the War of the Rebellion on the Union side. He also found any virtue or accomplishments black individuals possessed to be due to the influence of whites. I have seen no documentation that Pegler responded to this letter, although he and Carto would exchange letters in the future and Pegler would be receptive to his views on civil rights, despite his earlier having condemned the color line in baseball and comparing it to Nazi Germany.
Carto started with a four-year stint with Proctor & Gamble and in the months after he took a job as a Junior Clerk where he was fired for being authoritarian in his attitude to customers. He found a more suitable role as a bill collector for the Household Finance Corporation and started to focus his efforts on politics in San Francisco. In 1952, Carto registered as a Republican and sought to cultivate growth in the city’s Republican Party. He formed the organization Liberty & Property, Inc., which published the newsletter “Right” from 1955 to 1960 with the byline “A Monthly Bulletin Of, By and For The American Right Wing”. This publication’s contributors included Robert Kuttner, who wrote in support of racism and eugenics, and medieval English literature Professor Austin J. App, who had written for Conde McGinley’s anti-Semitic and racist journal Common Sense and would become one of the most prominent Holocaust deniers. Carto aimed to connect various groups of the right together, from fringe to mainstream, but towards his purposes. He wrote in support of segregation, opposition to the UN, and opposition to communism. Carto also established the American branch of “The Northern League”, a white supremacist organization based in Scotland. The book list of this group included titles such as “White America” and “Teutonic Unity” by white supremacist Earnest Sevier Cox, anti-Semite and scientific racist Houston Stewart Chamberlain’s “The Foundations of the 19th Century”, anthropologist and eugenicist Roger Pearson’s “Eugenics and Race”, Senator Theodore Bilbo’s pro-segregation book “Take Your Choice!”, and English professor John O. Beaty’s highly anti-Semitic “Iron Curtain over America”. The latter was one of Carto’s inspirations.
Carto would make contacts both on the mainstream right and with fringe movements. By 1955, many conservatives were disillusioned with President Eisenhower’s moderate course; they had long hoped for a ditching of the New Deal and were opposed to foreign economic aid. Instead, Eisenhower had in some cases merely limited growth and in others expanded it. That year, Carto formed Liberty Lobby and in its early years he managed to get numerous people who were known forces among conservatives on the Board of Policy. In 1956, Carto formed a temporary organization, SF Conservative Republicans, to enhance conservative presence at the Republican National Convention and expressed his preference for either Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin, Senator William Jenner of Indiana, or Governor J. Bracken Lee of Utah to be the Republican nominee instead of Eisenhower (FBI file part 2, 34). However, Republican moderates had control over the 1956 convention and this showed in the platform produced by the Republican Party that year. In 1957, Carto left the Republican Party for the fringe right Constitution Party.
Liberty Lobby: Causes and Board of Policy
Liberty Lobby in 1959 for the first time actively pushed for legislation, and this was the Mason-Bailey Bill, sponsored by Representatives Noah Mason (R-Ill.) and Cleveland Bailey (D-W.V.), which would vest authority in the setting of flexible tariffs to the Tariff Commission, stripping the State Department of any authority, intended to raise tariffs. The lobbying was through the Trade Policy Committee, an arm of the Liberty Lobby umbrella that employed arch-protectionist former Senator George Malone (R-Nev.) as its research director. Literature from Liberty Lobby asserted, “A continuance of the present policy means these things:
(1) Probable defeat in war, for we will be isolated from our sources of raw materials by 600 Russian submarines known to be afloat. (2) An increasing bleeding of American capital overseas and the closing of American factories as more and more businessmen transfer their plants abroad. This, while temporarily profitable for some businessmen, will irreparably cripple our domestic economy and national defense. (3) Gradual, ever-tightening control over the economy and political structure of the Nation by a world super-authority heedless of the rights and needs of Americans. (4) The steady lowering of the American standard of living to a common denominator with the rest of the world” (FBI file part 1, 32).
Carto opposed the admission of Hawaii in 1959, fearing a precedent would be established for the admission of island territories such as Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Virgin Islands and stated his belief that a Constitutional amendment was required for this to happen (U.S. Senate, 110). Unstated of course was his view that Hawaii admission was troublesome because it had many non-white inhabitants, although this was in truth not his foremost motivation in this case.
Easily Carto’s best decision during the 1960s was to hire W.B. Hicks as secretary, who had been an editor for the conservative publication Human Events. He served as the face of the organization before Congress while Carto ran other matters on the west coast. Hicks would be the person who would testify for or against legislation in Congress and he sought to make Liberty Lobby appeal to mainstream conservatives as much as possible. The most successful literature Liberty Lobby published was “LBJ: A Political Biography”, a pamphlet attacking Johnson with a large basis on J. Evetts Haley’s “A Texan Looks at Lyndon: A Study in Illegitimate Power”. This resulted in a massive upsurge of subscriptions to Liberty Lobby’s monthly publication at the time, “Liberty Letter”.
Liberty Lobby also was opposed to all major civil rights legislation, the Great Society, and the 1967 consular treaty. Senator Karl Mundt (R-S.D.) led the fight against the treaty and courted Liberty Lobby’s support on the issue. Mundt and other foes saw the treaty as giving ground to the Soviets, but Liberty Lobby saw it as deliberate subversion. Indeed, Carto saw a shadowy world of conspiracies like his foremost inspiration, Francis Parker Yockey.
Francis Parker Yockey: Carto’s Strange Inspiration
During the 1930s, after a flirtation with communism, Yockey became attracted to fascism and had joined William Dudley Pelley’s fascist Silver Shirts organization by 1939. Not long after being drafted into the U.S. Army, he was medically discharged with a diagnosis of “dementia praecox, paranoid type”, which would today mean “paranoid schizophrenia” (Simonds). However, historian Richard B. Spence writes that he had faked mental illness to get out of the draft. Yockey would for a shorty time work as an attorney for the prosecution of Nazis, but he would quickly turn against the proceedings. He would write his “sequel” to Oswald Spengler’s Decline of the West titled, Imperium: The Philosophy of History and Politics while residing in Brittas Bay, Ireland, which he would dedicate “To the hero of the second world war”, which in his view was Adolf Hitler (Simonds). Yockey was deeply anti-American in outlook and in his view, the United States started going downhill with the election of Andrew Jackson in 1828. He asserted that after this, money conquered America, Jews took over money, and thus Jews took over America, and lamented, “The population of America only consists now of a bare majority that is indisputably American racially, spiritually, nationally. The other half consists of Negroes, Jews, unassimilated South-eastern Europeans, Mexicans, Chinese, Siamese, Levantines, Slavs, and indians” (Simonds). For Yockey, matters got even worse when FDR was elected president in 1932. Although an American by birth, Yockey was essentially a European nationalist and was willing to work with both fascists and communists against the postwar international order of western nations. He wanted a Red-Black coalition against the United States. In 1960, Yockey would be arrested in San Francisco for holding multiple fraudulent passports, and one of the people to visit him in jail was Carto in the only meeting he had with his muse. Hours after his visit, Yockey consumed a cyanide pill that he had managed to keep hidden in his shoe. Although there has been speculation that Yockey was given the pill by Carto, it has not been proven. Carto himself would publicly state about Yockey on his passing, “Although I do not agree with all his ideas, I feel he was an authentic creative genius. I feel that those individuals who are responsible for driving him to his death should feel a great sense of guilt. The world has lost a great man whose ideas will be remembered until Western Civilization is exterminated” (Simonds). He thought of Yockey as a figure persecuted by the U.S. government and the Anti-Defamation League, the latter being Carto’s lifelong bête noire.
Correspondence with William F. Buckley Jr. and Involvement with the John Birch Society
Willis Carto had correspondence at different times with many different people, and they are interesting reads. His “Right” publication had written about the establishment of National Review in its October 1, 1955 paper, “In an interview over State of the Nation on October 9, William F. Buckley Jr., brilliant young author, stated that a new 32-page weekly publication, of which he will be editor and publisher, is to appear on November 1. The name of the magazine is to be the “National Review”. Mr. Buckley stated that he believes that the liberals should be taken seriously in their unctuous protestations that “all opinions” on public questions should be heard and therefore the “National Review” is being initiated. “There is one point of view not being expressed in the country and that is the conservative right,” said Mr. Buckley” (Right).
Correspondence between Carto and Buckley occurred from 1955 to 1960 and from their letters you can see similarities and some crucial differences between them. While, like most Americans in the 1950s and 1960s, Carto and Buckley were against interracial marriage, Carto objected to Buckley regarding black conservative George Schuyler and his mixed-race daughter Philippa Schuyler as conservatives in a September 29, 1960 dated letter. He held they couldn’t be thought of as conservatives as they embraced interracial relationships, and quotes Dr. E.L. Anderson (an alias for Carto himself) as justification for his views on what he calls “racial mongrelization” and dismisses any notion that blacks could write a document like the Constitution.
This was explicitly in response to Buckley’s letter to a Mr. Tully Brady of Mississippi defending his printing of an article from Philippa Schuyler on the Congo in National Review, writing “Philippa Schuyler wrote an excellent piece on the Congo which we were proud to print. It makes no difference to us that she is a half breed. It is not a part of the conservative position to blame on one person the faults of his parents. You will find that is the same position taken by those who wrote the Constitution of the United States” (Buckley, 1960). While Carto and Buckley agreed on support for the Mason-Bailey Bill to vest authority on flexible tariffs to the Tariff Commission, the former viewed it as good for being both a limitation on executive power and for protectionism, while the latter viewed it as only good for the former reason. Buckley’s motivations are also made explicit in his letter to Carto on National Review’s editorial positions, “In the realm of foreign affairs we believe that politically, and morally, the policy of appeasing the Soviet Union is suicidal. With respect to domestic affairs, the National Review contends that the New Deal contains within it the seeds of tyranny for it encourages the omnipotent state and belittles individual rights and preferences” (Buckley, 1955).
Buckley would later regard Carto and Liberty Lobby of what he regarded as the “irresponsible right” and the two would from then on be enemies.
In 1959, Willis Carto joined with the John Birch Society and was in communication with its president, Robert W. Welch. He contributed two short articles to American Opinion: “The Hundred-Year Hoax” which critiques the labor-capital division of Marxism, and “What’s Right in America”, in which he includes biological factors when describing groups opposed to Marxism. However, Carto soon split with Welch after the two had a dispute.
Some former politicians and even some contemporary ones were attracted to Liberty Lobby. As I mentioned earlier, he managed to get former Senator George W. Malone (R-Nev.) to work for his group under the Lobby’s umbrella pushing the Mason-Bailey bill, a proposal to limit the authority of the Executive on trade. On the Board of Policy, he managed to get former Rep. Kit Clardy (R-Mich.), who had in one term become known as “Michigan’s McCarthy” for the degree of his anti-Communist zeal and also had San Mateo’s former Assemblyman Louis Francis (R) who was known for promoting anti-communist legislation and in the early 1960s had J. Bracken Lee, at the time Salt Lake City’s mayor, on the board. He also got the elderly George W. Welsh, a former Republican lieutenant governor of Michigan and mayor of Grand Rapids to be on the 1965 Board of Policy. Reps. Bruce Alger (R-Tex.) and John Bell Williams (D-Miss.) would be involved with Liberty Lobby’s United Congressional Appeal to raise funds for conservative candidates.
Carto’s Aliases: Communicating His Message By Other Means
Willis Carto would not only write under his own name, but on several occasions wrote under aliases to communicate his message without having it being tied to him or to boost the credibility of what he was saying. He did the former when he wrote blatantly anti-Semitic screeds under the alias “The Patriot” in the late 1950s (for which the FBI investigated him) and the latter when he wrote under “Dr. E.L. Anderson”, who Carto claimed was a distinguished professor.
The Board of Policy and Pseudo-Populism
Carto attracted numerous people to the Board of Policy, including a few politicians. He also attracted numerous people in the military who harbored anti-Semitic views, such as Generals Pedro del Valle and George Stratemeyer as well as political activists who had worked for or supported notorious anti-Semite Gerald L.K. Smith (who praised Liberty Lobby), such as W.L. Foster of Oklahoma and Christian Identity minister Kenneth Goff. There were some that had more of a mainstream background, such as Stanley M. Andrews, a former aide to Senator Frank Lausche (D-Ohio) and head of Americans for National Security, Liberty Lobby’s arm for promoting national security issues.
Although Liberty Lobby’s literature insisted that no policy could be adopted by Liberty Lobby without the board’s approval, the significance of it was in truth never great. In 1963, the head of the Board, Curtis B. Dall, a former son-in-law of FDR, testified under oath before Congress that the board never once met and that Carto was “chief executive officer of Liberty Lobby and the main motivating individual in it” (Simonds). Although Dall was the nominal head of the board, he had no control over funds, that was all Carto. Dall was primarily a figurehead. The Board of Policy in truth served as much a function as the standard Board of Trustees of a company does…it rubber-stamps what the CEO wants. In 1964, the board was expanded from thirty to forty-five members and the new members were on the fascist end of politics. The people added were, and I shall include my description of them as well as Carto’s description of them through his writing of the 1965 Board of Policy list:
Ed Delaney – An American who broadcast Nazi propaganda through Radio Berlin directed at American audiences until Germany declared war on the United States. He was not tried for treason as it was never proven that he made any broadcasts after the declaration of war.
Carto’s version: “Imprisoned by the Reds at the end of World War II, this courageous journalist became a foremost expert on the Red rape of Eastern Europe. Columnist; radio commentator”.
Kenneth Goff – An acolyte of Minister Gerald L.K. Smith and former communist who testified before the Dies Committee, I wrote a bit about him in my Liberty Lobby post. In a March 5, 1961 letter Carto wrote that he wanted Goff to succeed him as head of Liberty Lobby should he unexpectedly die.
Carto’s version: “As a youth he was recruited into the Communist Party but quit in 1939 giving 140 pages of testimony to the Dies committee. Prolific writer, popular lecturer, Christian leader”.
Tyler Kent – I wrote a whole post on this man in December 2021.
Carto’s version: “An authentic American hero who was illegally sent to a British jail for trying to expose Roosevelt’s criminal war plans. Former publisher, writer, now a gentleman farmer who collects libel judgments as a hobby”.
Robert E. Kuttner – A biologist and eugenicist who wrote for Charles Lee Smith’s “The Truth Seeker” (which under Smith was racist and anti-Semitic) and for “Right” from 1958 to 1960. Kuttner also collaborated with Ezra Pound’s racist and anti-Semitic biographer Eustace Mullins on writings about “biopolitics” and described his own position as “scientific racism” (Jackson, 60-65). Not to be mistaken with contemporary economics journalist Robert Kuttner.
Carto’s description: “Professor, researcher, Creighton University. Past president, International Council as vice president and is adviser to other groups. Many scientific journals”.
W. Henry McFarland – Another acolyte of Minister Gerald L.K. Smith who ran the Nationalist Action League, which was deemed a fascist organization by the Attorney General. McFarland challenged Senator Hugh Scott of Pennsylvania for the Republican nomination in 1964 and lost in a landslide.
Carto’s description: “Veteran anti-Communist writer and organizer. Founder, American Flag Committee, 1950. GOP primary opponent of Senator Hugh Scott, 1964”.
Ned Touchstone – Editor of The Councilor, a notorious segregationist who was deeply involved in White Citizens Councils.
Carto’s description: “This former newspaper publisher – the only American newsman to cover both Castro’s invasion of Havana and Bobby Kennedy’s invasion of Oxford – gave up a successful business to edit the Councilor”.
One of the few people who could influence Carto was his staff director, W.B. Hicks, who worked to make the organization have a presence in Washington. Carto realized that Hicks was a key figure to the organization’s presence and thus was willing to listen to him. In 1966, Liberty Lobby announced that the Board of Policy would be expanded to include anyone who contributed $1 a month. The organization even mailed voting cards to its members so they could vote to approve Liberty Lobby advocating for certain policies. However, this was subterfuge for Carto taking even more control: he would not even open the mail he received from this expanded Board of Policy (Simonds). One of Carto’s slogans was “Your Influence Counts…Use It!”, but in practice he only meant it for himself. He would portray himself in later days as a “Jeffersonian populist”, but he had no interest in giving the people any voice in practice out of fear that they would disagree with critical parts of his agenda. Carto also ran a publishing firm called Noontide Press, which published Imperium. On February 9, 1969, Hicks was killed in a boating accident, and Carto had no guard from going off the rails. One associate said about the situation, “When W.B. and I were there, it was possible for us to exercise a certain degree of influence on Carto, to keep him from going off the deep end. I realized when W.B. was killed that I couldn’t restrain Willis alone, to keep him from injecting his philosophy into the organization” (Simonds).
There was also an advocacy organization attached to Liberty Lobby for supporting Congressional campaigns, called United Congressional Appeal (UCA), which was run by former ultra-conservative Rep. Bruce Alger (R-Tex.) from 1968 to 1972 (he would stay on the Board of Advisers after), its purpose to be to push conservative Congressional candidates. Others on the board included anti-tax activist Howard Jarvis who led the push for Prop 13 in California, anti-sex education investigative reporter John Steinbacher, and Harry von Zell, radio announcer and actor. Others included people who were or had been on Liberty Lobby’s Board of Policy, such as chairman Curtis B. Dall, Glenn O. Young of American Adviser (a supporter of Oklahoma Governor William H. Murray), novelist Taylor Caldwell, and anti-feminist activist Lucille Cardin Crain. Whether these people ever met in one place is doubtful given how the Liberty Lobby Board of Policy never met. Another purpose written in a memorandum to oil billionaire H.L. Hunt dated May 31, 1971 was “To lay out a plan for White survival in the United States, suitable for present emergency conditions and which will at the same time form a foundation for the ultimate re-establishment of White political control” (Carto, 1971). This other purpose was not mentioned in literature encouraging fundraising for the group, which was directed at conservatives generally. Retired General Pedro del Valle, who believed that the Protocols of the Elders of Zion was genuine, would take up the chairmanship of the UCA in 1976 until his death in 1978.
In 1975, Liberty Lobby began publishing a weekly newspaper titled The Spotlight. This paper opposed bankers and the IRS, pushed an “America First” perspective, promoted conspiracy theories (including about JFK), opposed the Gulf War, promoted quack medicine, featured some mainstream conservative articles, was anti-Israel, and had undertones of racism and anti-Semitism. The paper at first got significant subscribership and peaked at 315,000 in 1981, but had fallen to 90,000 by 1992 (George & Wilcox, 260). The true aims of Carto were reflected in the advertisements in the classifieds section for neo-Nazi groups and books. In 1984, Carto created the Populist Party in an effort to promote his positions and naturally The Spotlight strongly supported Olympic athlete Bob Richards’ candidacy in 1984 (he would later renounce Carto and the party) and David Duke’s candidacy through the Populist Party in 1988. Probably the greatest success the party had was managing to get Duke the Republican nomination for Louisiana governor in 1991. The Spotlight also supported Pat Buchanan’s efforts at the presidency.
Control of The American Mercury, 1966-1981
By the time Willis Carto acquired The American Mercury in 1966, the paper’s reputation had already gone to the dogs. The paper had been created by the great literary wit H.L. Mencken in 1924 and had featured the writings of many great intellectuals of the day, but the paper took a more distinctly political turn in the early 1950s under William Bradford Huie, who unsuccessfully tried to make it what National Review would become. Huie had to sell the paper, and he sold it to Russell Maguire, a machine-gun manufacturer who would shift the paper’s focus to conflating Judaism and communism. Carto would only go further in Maguire’s direction, having on the editorial staff John Mitchell Henshaw, who formerly worked for Drew Pearson, to write anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. In one article, Henshaw would call for renaming the Kerner Commission to the “Ginsberg Commission” after its executive director (Simonds). He would also have veteran right-wing pamphleteer Joseph P. Kamp, also a member of Liberty Lobby’s Board of Policy, writing for the paper on matters surrounding Jews, such as “This Judeo-Christian Heritage Hoax”, against the idea of a shared Judeo-Christian heritage that he claimed was a myth promoted by the ADL and AJD (American Jewish Committee) (Simonds). In 1978, an article was published in American Mercury titled “Hitler – the Greatest Spenglerian”, praising Hitler as a European leader that the west should have sided with and dismissing claims of the Holocaust. The article has no author listed (Being “In the Mercury’s Opinion), but given its citing of Imperium, it was written by Carto. Carto would also control The Washington Observer, which would repeatedly feature anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and as an editorial practice identify Jews (Federal Reserve Chairman Arthur Burns is identified as “Bernstein”, even though that was his wife’s maiden name), written by a “Lee Roberts”, most of the writing being done in truth by John Mitchell Henshaw (Simonds). The paper would shutter in 1981.
Youth For Wallace: Creation and Deterioration
In 1968, Carto founded Youth for Wallace, which was aimed at both being an advocacy group for the candidacy of George Wallace and at being a conservative answer to the left-wing college activist group Students for a Democratic Society. After Wallace’s defeat, the organization’s name was changed to the National Youth Alliance (NYA). On the board of this organization were academics Austin J. App and Revilo P. Oliver. Therefore, it is scarcely surprising that this group quickly degenerated into a neo-Nazi mess under its official director, Louis T. Byers, done with the not-so tacit approval of Carto himself. This became clear after the Pittsburgh meeting in 1969, in which after the meeting of the organization a party for Carto was thrown by the “Francis Parker Yockey Movement” with Colonel Dall in attendance in which guests were allegedly wearing Nazi insignia with Nazi war songs playing along with the singing of “Horst Wessel Lied” (Simonds). Themes would abound in speeches delivered afterwards that pointed towards fascism, anti-Semitism, and anti-black racism. According to C.H. Simonds (1971), “He spoke of his meeting with Yockey and how the movement was growing throughout the nation. He expressed his belief that political power, like he was building in Liberty Lobby, would soon bring the ‘Imperium’ of which all Yockeyites dream…In the meantime, it was necessary for Yockeyites to collect as much political power as possible within all existing political institutions and to capture the leadership of as many conservative elements as possible as the nation swings to the right. In this manner, said Carto, the FPYM members will capture the nation.
Next to the Jews, the most despised of all are the leaders of the legitimate Right like such as Bill Buckley Jr., John Ashbrook, Fulton Lewis III, ad infinitum [sic]. They, said Carto, are the real enemies of the Yockeyites. They are the principal obstacles to be overcome”.
Although there were some in the organization who had become alarmed at its direction and expressed as such to Carto, he acted dismissive. C.H. Simonds (1971) then reports what happened at a subsequent meeting, “The next day an election of officers took place, in which an ‘anti-Nazi’ slate header by Patrick Tifer, a pale, wispy boy from Michigan, won. During the voting, according to Sullivan, Carto delivered an impassioned plea for ‘unity’; when the voting continued to go against him, he threw a colossal tantrum. Sullivan says the meeting ended with the Tiferites believing they were now in control of NYA; as Pallone tells it, the Cartoites ignored the election results, ‘proposed that Imperium, a book which no one had read, be the guiding light of the NYA and broke up the meeting'”. A conflict subsequently developed when another authoritarian personality with interest in leadership, William Luther Pierce, joined the organization. Carto accused Pierce of stealing Liberty Lobby’s mailing list to use for his own purposes. In 1971, there was a major split, with many of the people from this organization joining Pierce’s National Alliance in 1974, which was openly neo-Nazi.
Connections with German Nazis
According to Carto’s biographer George Michael, he was even involved in the publication of some biographies of Nazis. Belgian collaborator Leon Degrelle and former Luftwaffe ace Hans-Ulrich Rudel published memoirs through his Noontide Press and in 1973 Carto and his wife even visited Otto Skorzeny, Hitler’s favorite commando, at his Spanish villa. Otto-Ernst Remer, a Wehrmacht colonel who had played a critical role in stopping the July Plot, spoke at an Institute for Historical Review conference.
Other Allies: George Lincoln Rockwell, Black Nationalists, and Lyndon LaRouche
Willis Carto had some other unconventional ties for a man who wanted to portray himself as a respectable conservative publicly. He maintained some top-secret friendly correspondence with American Nazi Party leader George Lincoln Rockwell during the 1960s (Novak). In 1974, Lyndon LaRouche, a left-wing conspiracy theorist who attempted to run for president claiming himself to be a “conservative Democrat” and who I will one day write about, was introduced to members of the KKK and Willis Carto. Both LaRouche and Carto also had mutual enemies in National Review and William F. Buckley Jr., and both saw Buckley as being a force for the CIA, which he had worked for for two years in the 1950s. After this meeting, he would add Jewish organizations to those forces that conspire to ail society. LaRouche would claim that Jewish groups were linked to the international drug trade, the production and dissemination of pornography, and international terrorism (Copulous). As a believer in racial separatism, Carto even decided to reach out to like-minded people of different races. He had exchanged correspondence with two black nationalists (Norwood & Pollack, 190).
Institute for Historical Review
In 1978, Carto, along with former National Front (a British fascist party) member David McCalden, formed the Institute for Historical Review (IHR), a pseudo-scholarly organization to push Holocaust denial. Participants in the organization included Austin J. App, Tyler Kent, and Professor James J. Martin. As Richard J. Evans (2002) wrote about the group, “Like many individual Holocaust deniers, the Institute as a body denied that it was involved in Holocaust denial. It called this a ‘smear’ which was ‘completely at variance with the facts’ because ‘revisionist scholars’ such as Faurisson, Butz ‘and bestselling British historian David Irving acknowledge that hundreds of thousands of Jews were killed and otherwise perished during the Second World War as a direct and indirect result of the harsh anti-Jewish policies of Germany and its allies’. But the concession that a relatively small number of Jews were killed [has been] routinely used by Holocaust deniers to distract attention from the far more important fact of their refusal to admit that the figure ran into the millions, and that a large proportion of these victims were systematically murdered by gassing as well as by shooting” (151). The IHR has occasionally included revisionist articles on World War I from more mainstream historians, but this is for the purpose of furthering the narrative that Germany was a victim in global events.
In 1966 and 1967, columnist Drew Pearson wrote about Carto’s connections to neo-Nazis and some of the people who made up his board based on the reports of Jeremy Horne, a mainstream conservative who worked for Liberty Lobby and found some incriminating letters as to Carto’s racism and anti-Semitism. This report was naturally denied by Carto, who was normally eager to stay out of the spotlight. Indeed, Carto by outward appearances was unexceptional and he wanted to keep it that way and many on the right were inherently suspicious of Pearson’s reporting as he was prone to smear attacks on conservatives and was far from 100% in accuracy, so this wasn’t at first taken seriously. Pearson had discovered that Carto written to conservative Norris Holt of Sausalito, California that “There are six hundred million Chinese and about two hundred million Russians. All united in a determination to destroy the west. And we have been so misled that we live in a dream world – far away from reality. Hitler’s defeat was the defeat of Europe; and America. How could we have been so blind? The blame, it seems, must be laid at the door of the international Jews…If Satan himself with all his super-human genius and diabolical ingenuity at his command, had tried to create a permanent disintegration and force for the destruction of the nations, he could have done no better than to invent the Jews” (Pearson). Then in 1969, True magazine ran an expose on Carto, “How Nazi Nut Power has Invaded Capitol Hill” based on the account of a former employee that revealed deeply anti-Semitic and pro-Hitler private correspondence from him. In 1971, C.H. Simonds of National Review wrote another expose, this article being a significant source of this article.
Lawsuits and Carto’s Impact on American Law
Willis Carto on multiple occasions took people to court including Drew Pearson, William F. Buckley Jr., and Jack Anderson for claiming that he and Liberty Lobby promoted racism and anti-Semitism. E. Howard Hunt also sued The Spotlight for an article alleging that he was implicated in the assassination of JFK. The two lawsuits that had the most significant impacts on American law are as follows:
David McCalden had an idea…a terrible idea for the Institute for Historical Review to offer a $50,000 reward to anyone who could prove the authenticity of the Holocaust. This attracted the attention of Mel Mermelstein, a survivor of Auschwitz. He agreed to IHR’s offer and signed an affidavit that he had been an inmate at Auschwitz and witnessed gas chambers being used on Jews there. Naturally, IHR rejected this affidavit and Mermelstein was able to sue for breach of contract. In 1981, the judge ruled that the Holocaust was an “indisputable fact” (Mathews). McCalden that year left IHR over the fallout from the case. Four years later, the IHR was forced to pay the reward as well as extra for emotional suffering from the reward offer. IHR to this day continues to deny the Holocaust.
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.
In this case, Liberty Lobby sued Jack Anderson for reporting that Liberty Lobby and Willis Carto were an anti-Semitic, fascist, and racist, and the result was a highly significant decision. The case Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc. (1986) has become the single most cited decision in American law as using that case is a precedent for motions for summary judgment, a standard to decide that the facts of the case are present and thus a judgment can be rendered to end frivolous lawsuits (477 U.S. 242).
Willis Carto: “Little Hitler” and Losses
Carto learned nothing from his firing earlier in his career as his management style was dictatorial, and staff at Liberty Lobby, many who had joined in the belief that it was a conservative organization, called him “Little Hitler” behind his back and referred to his wife as “Eva Braun”. Carto at one time blew up at an employee for buying a bundle of paper clips and his reaction to problems with the new computer system likely caused by staff incompetence was to tighten security to the degree that employees could not leave their desks without permission. Matters got worse when in May 1970 all employees were forced to take lie detector tests in which they were asked if they had sabotaged the organization through contacts with the FBI or ADL and whether they’d committed embezzlement or stolen mailing lists (Simonds). Carto couldn’t even get along with other like-minded people…Revilo P. Oliver (an unpleasant figure himself) broke with him as did his neo-Nazi NYA chair Louis T. Byers.
Carto’s HR problems would also result in his loss of the Institute for Historical Review in 1994, after Mark Weber (its current head) and other employees kicked him out over a dispute on the bequeathing of around $10 million in the will of a grandniece of Thomas Edison. He immediately established in IHR’s place The Barnes Review, named after revisionist historian and Holocaust denier Harry Elmer Barnes, who I have written a whole post on. This outfit would too push Holocaust denial among other things and would also sell books, including of course Yockey’s Imperium and brought back into print Ralph Townsend’s 1933 indictment of Chinese culture, Ways That Are Dark, with a Carto introduction. In 2001, Liberty Lobby and The Spotlight shut down after Carto lost a lawsuit between IHR and him and was forced to declare bankruptcy. However, he quickly went ahead and founded American Free Press (AFP). Although AFP has always been very marginal, it did get disgraced former Congressman Jim Traficant (D-Ohio) to write for it. AFP also managed to secure an interview with Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County on his anti-illegal immigration efforts.
Death and Concerns for Today
As the end approached, Carto found it ironic that because he served in World War II and was wounded by a Japanese sniper that he would be buried at Arlington Cemetery given that he acknowledged that he was “probably America’s biggest Hitler fan” (Novak). On October 26, 2015, he died, but some events that happened not long after his death would have probably pleased him. The increasingly conspiratorial tone among certain loud figures on the right due to InfoWars (among other fringe entities) contamination of conservative media sources in recent years as well as the rise of the alt-right phenomenon I see as manifestations of the politics of Carto. Indeed, the QAnon conspiracy theory, vaccination conspiracy theories, and the like are matters I could see coming out of The Spotlight in its day. Carto would have likely at least given support for the 2016 candidacy of Donald Trump as did David Duke, which would have been the first time he backed one of the major two-party nominees since Goldwater. This is not to say that the bulk of those who supported him in 2016 or 2020 were or are alt-right, but it is not unfair to say that Trump gave more room for such people along with other outsiders with his candidacy. Indeed, such folks made their showings to the public on August 11-12th, 2017 and January 6th, 2021. I see the alt-right as Carto-inspired and as a short-term threat to the United States and the good of its people, but as no more as they lack fundamental institutional supports in academia, the media, business, and government. The neo-Marxists, however, are a different story….
Southern Democrats were by the 1940s a recognized bloc of legislators who were far more conservative than Northern Democrats and often sided with the GOP on critical issues, especially on matters of labor. Indeed, from about 1939 to the mid-late 1970s there was a very distinct and formidable conservative branch of the Democratic Party. The common view is that Southern Democrats turned Republican, however, with liberal Democrats making it clear that seniority was no longer the sole qualifier for holding key chairmanships through their ousters of Wilbur Mills of Arkansas, F. Edward Hebert of Louisiana, and Wright Patman and Bob Poage of Texas in 1975, Southern Democrats who wanted to hold significant power had to play ball with liberal Democrats. Although one conservative Democrat, John Jarman of Oklahoma, switched to the GOP in protest, the more common reactions were to either retire or play ball. Two conservative legislators who shifted their record significantly to the left to do so rather than joining with the Republican Party or calling it quits were Jamie Whitten of Mississippi and Walter B. Jones of North Carolina.
Case #1: Jamie Whitten
Jamie Whitten (1910-1995) stands as one of the longest-serving representatives in American history, having served in Congress from Mississippi from 1941 to 1995. Chances are my readers were alive when he was in Congress as I was. Whitten began acting as did a standard Mississippi Democrat in his day and age did: as an instinctual conservative who supported segregation. In 1962, he wrote That We May Live, a book countering Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. Whitten hit his peaks of conservatism with dissatisfaction over Presidents Truman and Johnson, but in the 1970s his record began to moderate. Whitten would also come around to supporting civil rights legislation after 1975. In 1978, Appropriations Committee chairman George Mahon of Texas was calling it quits; he was one of the people who had survived the 1975 liberal revolt against Southern committee chairmen as he was widely regarded as capable and not obstructionist. Jamie Whitten wanted the post, but it was made clear to him that on many issues of significance he had to support the Democratic position. This he did, and during the Reagan years he was often standing in opposition to his domestic policies even though ten to twenty years earlier he would have probably stood in support. He notably described to future Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) the role of Budget Committee vs. Appropriations Committee when he wanted a post on the former: “Well, if you want to be on that committee, you can be on that committee, but I want you to remember one thing, the Budget Committee deals in hallucinations and the Appropriations Committee deals in facts” (164 Cong. Rec S1881).
Although his increasingly conservative constituents were rather dismayed by his change in record, his standing in the district was sufficiently good for him to continue being reelected and he also, of course, brought home the bacon with pork barrel spending. In February 1992, Whitten suffered a major stroke and was replaced as chair of the Appropriations Committee. Although reelected that year, it was widely believed that when Whitten retired, his successor would be a Republican. Indeed, his successor was none other than Roger Wicker, who was elected in the 1994 Republican Revolution and currently serves as one of Mississippi’s senators.
Case #2: Walter B. Jones
In 1965, longtime Congressman Herbert C. Bonner died in office, and his successor was Walter Jones (1913-1992). Jones proved more conservative than his predecessor and was an opponent of President Johnson and his liberal Great Society. However, his record moderated throughout the 1970s as he grew more interested in leadership. A notable instance among what would turn out to be many in which he sacrificed principle for leadership ambitions was his vote for the bailout of New York City in 1975. As his son, Congressman Walter Jr. (R-N.C.) would recount, “He had to vote it that way. I would rather do what I think is right than to sell my political soul” (Bauerlein). He, like Whitten, proved a foe to Reagan and he voted as a party loyalist after he got the chairmanship of the Committee on Merchant Marine and Fisheries. In 1992, Jones’ district got reconfigured to be majority black and he lost renomination to Eva Clayton, dying in office shortly after. His son, Jones Jr., would win election to Congress as a Republican with the Republican Revolution of 1994, and he would take a different path than his father, emphasizing principles over power. He proved to be an independent-minded conservative with a populistic and anti-war streak. Jones maintained this with the last president he served alongside, Donald Trump. He voted against both Obamacare repeal and tax reduction legislation, which contributed to a mere 41% for his ACU score in 2017, whereas his score the previous year had been a 96%. Jones’s independence continued until his death from ALS on his 76th birthday in 2019.
Someday it had to happen. Someday I had to cover the one and only Ron Paul (1935- ). Before I begin, I’ll offer full disclosure: I voted for him in the 2012 Republican primary as I liked his proposed budget best as it was the only one to have a net reduction in spending. It didn’t impact the primary in any way as Romney had the nomination locked by the time it was California’s turn to vote. I recall Romney’s budget was decent, meaning only modest budget growth, and everyone else’s were loaded with spending. Paul’s career in politics interestingly enough got off the ground a long time ago.
In 1971, President Richard Nixon fully took the United States off the gold standard, an event I have covered in a pervious post. This inspired Ron Paul, 36-year-old doctor and adherent of economist Ludwig von Mises, to get into politics as a Republican. In 1974, Paul ran for Congress but lost badly given the overall negative environment for Republicans as well as the district being represented by Robert Casey, a conservative Democrat. His window of opportunity opened in 1976, when Casey resigned to accept an appointment by President Gerald Ford to the Federal Maritime Commission. The district was one of those ripe for takeover by the GOP, and Paul was a popular candidate as he had as an OB-GYN delivered many babies in the district and won the special election. As a representative, from the start he proved libertarian. Paul consistently voted against expansions of government power and voted for cuts in the defense budget. He was also one of the few elected officials to back Ronald Reagan in 1976. He had a temporary setback in losing reelection to Bob Gammage that year as Jimmy Carter won Texas, however the year 1978 proved to be a bit of an end of an era for the state. That year, Republican Bill Clements won the gubernatorial election, a first for the party after Reconstruction. Additionally, Republicans gained a few seats in Congress and John Tower once again won reelection to the Senate. To add to this change, four longtime Democrats also retired from Congress: Olin Teague, Bob Poage, Omar Burleson, George Mahon, all I have covered in my Texas Legends series. Ron Paul was a beneficiary of this move to the GOP as he defeated Gammage and what’s more, he was personally popular in the district. His central philosophy as a legislator, which would earn him a most honored nickname of “Dr. No”, was that he would “never vote for legislation unless the proposed measure is expressly authorized by the Constitution” (Memmott).
Paul continued his libertarian record and at times butted heads with the Reagan Administration. While he supported Reagan’s tax reduction and limited domestic government positions, he opposed the institution of selective service and the administration’s increasing military expenditures, including the CIA’s assistance to the Contras in Nicaragua. In 1984, Paul forewent running for reelection to Congress to focus on running for the Republican Senate nomination. However, he was bested by the Reagan Administration’s preferred candidate Phil Gramm and was succeeded by future House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. Paul subsequently broke away from the Republican Party to run for president on the Libertarian Party ticket.
The 1988 Campaign
Ron Paul had split with President Reagan over his administration’s choosing to emphasize tax cutting and military expenditures over balancing the budget, resulting in a large deficit. He called for major budget cuts and a return to the Gold Standard. Paul was blistering in his criticisms of Reagan during his campaign, holding that “Reagan’s record is disgraceful. He starts wars, breaks the law, supplies terrorists with guns made at taxpayers’ expense and lies about it to the American people” (Philadelphia Inquirer). Although he got the endorsements of LSD champion Timothy Leary, former Congressman Pete McCloskey (R-Calif.), and David Letterman, he didn’t get much of the vote, winning 0.5% of the vote as conservatives had lined up behind George Bush.
The Newsletter Controversy
From 1985 to 1997, Paul was out of Congress and several publications bearing his name came out, including The Ron Paul Investment Letter, The Ron Paul Survival Report, and The Ron Paul Political Report. These newsletters, along with reporting on financial matters, contained content widely deemed racist. These included the following statements:
“Given the inefficiencies of what DC laughingly calls the criminal justice system, I think we can safely assume that 95 percent of the black males in that city are semi-criminal or entirely criminal”.
“We are constantly told that it is evil to be afraid of black men, it is hardly irrational”.
“Order was only restored in L.A. when it came time for the blacks to pick up their welfare checks” (referring to the Rodney King riots)” (Dougherty).
Paul responded to these revelations in 1996 by taking responsibility and holding that some things were taken out of context. He narrowly won his comeback race in 1996 after ousting the GOP’s preferred candidate, incumbent Greg Laughlin. In 2001, Paul stated in an interview with Texas Monthly, which had originally reported the story, that his campaign staff had convinced him that it was too “confusing” to attribute the letters to a ghostwriter (Sanchez & Weigel). Politicians having ghostwriters is nothing new (Brent Bozell ghostwrote Conscience of a Conservative), but for a ghostwriter to stray significantly from an intended message of the named figure is unusual. When the issue again appeared in 2008, he reiterated the story about the ghostwriter, who was apparently unknown to him and didn’t represent his views. The responsibility for the authorship of the newsletters is something of an open question, but the most likely explanation, given by multiple allegations from libertarians connected with Paul including a former staffer, is that his former chief of staff, Lew Rockwell, had written the content under Paul’s name. Rockwell has denied that he was the ghostwriter.
This seems to have been a deliberate strategy to attract support among white racists rather than an expression of the beliefs of the ghostwriter. The Libertarian movement has made multiple bids to try and increase their base of support, including trying to connect with the anti-war left in the 1970s. Parts of the Libertarian movement during the late 1980s and early 1990s were trying to attract the crowd that subscribed to The Spotlight, the publication of anti-Semite and pseudo-populist Willis Carto’s Liberty Lobby as they found a lot of donations came from the mailing list to that publication. Indeed, the Paul newsletters were free of bigoted content from 1985 to 1988, but after Paul’s Libertarian Party run for president in 1988, the newsletters took on a bigoted tone. This was a strategy pushed by economist Murray Rothbard and Lew Rockwell, which the former referred to as “Outreach to the Rednecks” (Dougherty). In other words, they did it for the money. This doesn’t make it peachy, and that these were written under Paul’s name with Paul himself profiting is a negative mark on his legacy. As Julian Sanchez and David Weigel wrote in Reason (2008), “Ron Paul may not be a racist, but he became complicit in a strategy of pandering to racists – and taking “moral responsibility” for that now means more than just uttering the phrase. It means openly grappling with his own past – acknowledging who said what, and why”.
Paul was, predictably, a foe of the Clinton Administration on his return and backed his impeachment. He was, however, quite obscure in this time. Yet, his appeal was noted by S.C. Gwynne (2001) of Texas Monthly:
“Imagine, for a moment, the perfect congressman. Though he works in Washington D.C., a city of shameless opportunism, shifting allegiances, and flannel-mouthed pieties, he is both deeply principled and wholly uncompromised. He does not bend with the political winds. He does not take money from corporate PACs. Lobbyists cannot sway him; to try is a waste of time. He never bargains with his own deeply held beliefs, nor does he cut backroom deals. Because his political views and his personal convictions are in complete harmony, he seldom faces a “tough” vote. And when the politicking for the week is over, he returns to his district to take up his lifelong occupation, which has nothing to do with politics”.
Indeed, his district kept returning him to office easily even though during the Bush years he was most often in dissent with his party and what is thought of as the “conservative position”. He opposed the Patriot Act, the Iraq War, and for the use of force in Afghanistan he had voted for but called for an official declaration of war. Such positions led to Dick Morris, a former advisor to Bill Clinton, saying that “I think that he is absolutely the most liberal, radical, left-wing person to run for president in the United States in the last 50 years. Nobody else wants to dismantle the military, including Obama, but he does. Even Obama doesn’t want to repeal the Patriot Act. But he does. Even Obama doesn’t say that we caused 9/11 and brought it on ourselves. But Ron Paul does. Even Obama doesn’t want to legalize heroin and cocaine, but Ron Paul does. This guy is no conservative. This guy is an ultra, ultra-left-wing radical” (Poor). When his domestic voting record is taken into consideration and that his proposed military budget kept the United States highest in the world, this claim is ridiculous on its face. Paul stood out again for having uniquely cast votes against Congressional medals for Pope John Paul II, Ronald Reagan, and Rosa Parks. Paul asserted that such expenditures were an unconstitutional use of taxpayer money and challenged House members to contribute $100 each from their own pocket. There were, of course, no takers. On abortion, Paul voted mostly a pro-life line, opposing Roe v. Wade (1973) as judicial overreach and supporting the issue going back to the states and opposing any federal funding of it and any federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. This had been a subject of controversy in his 1988 Libertarian candidacy, as they are traditionally pro-choice. Although Paul voted for the Partial-Birth Abortion Act in 2003, he voted against the Unborn Victims of Violence Act in 2004, which made it a crime to harm a fetus during the commission of other crimes.
Presidential Bids as a Republican
It was a sign of increasingly troubled economic times that in 2007 Paul came to greater prominence rather than what he would previously be regarded as, an obscure and kind of crankish politician. He was a bit of a Bernie Sanders for the right, but one who was willing to dissent more from the Republican Party’s positions than Sanders is the Democratic Party’s despite him being officially an Independent. The enthusiasm for his primary campaign was clear when on November 5, 2007 in anniversary of Guy Fawkes Day, about $4.3 million was raised online and $200,000 over the phone from grassroots supporters, on the initiative of a single supporter (Pelofsky). This propelled the otherwise obscure Paul to national attention and he even became an internet meme. He was for millions of libertarian-minded conservatives a breath of fresh air after eight years of George W. Bush and a troubled and unpopular war. However, he lost the nomination to Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.).
After the election of Barack Obama in 2008, Paul became a prominent supporter of the Tea Party movement and spoke at their rallies. In 2010, his son, Rand, was elected to the Senate from Kentucky and serves to this day. In 2011, Paul ran again for the Republican nomination for president, but he was overshadowed by Romney, Santorum, Gingrich, and Bachmann. His most notable moment during the campaign was his urging of Rick Perry to go further in cabinet department deletion when Perry couldn’t remember that one of the departments he wanted to be rid of was the Department of Energy. Ironically, Perry would be Secretary of Energy during the Trump Administration. Paul’s supporters have held that his lack of media presence in his primary campaign was due to a media blackout with the aim of reducing coverage for him. John Hudson (2012) of The Atlantic backed this claim given the Pew Research report at the time, which he held that “the downward trajectory of coverage volume has been steep for Paul” despite his rising poll numbers at the time. Paul did not run for reelection in 2012. He currently hosts the internet show appropriately titled, The Ron Paul Liberty Report.
Ron Paul was thought of somewhat differently by different interest groups and ideological scoring systems, and I’m not done dragging Morris, as none found for his interpretation of Paul’s record. Americans for Democratic Action’s lifetime score for him, not counting absences, was a 30% and his ACU score was an 83%, which is also his MC-Index score. His DW-Nominate score, however, was astonishingly high at a 0.863. This is certainly due to his willingness to be in the minority on numerous votes, putting him with extremely conservative legislators on so many occasions. While Ron Paul was not an effective legislator at promoting legislation, I would say given that his aim was to restrict rather than expand government, such a complaint is mostly beside the point. He also leaves a legacy in Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who continues to push for libertarian conservatism and has every session sponsored his father’s proposed “Audit the Fed” legislation and twice it has passed the House. I suppose my aforementioned vote for Paul was more than just the budget, I liked his principled independence as well. It will take someone with principles of steel to set this country right on fiscal matters and I saw and continue to see Paul as that sort of person.
Dougherty, M.B. (2011, December 20). Here’s The Real Story Behind Ron Paul’s Newsletters. Business Insider.
Mahoning County, Ohio, has long been a Democratic area (until its 2020 vote for Trump, that is). From 1937 to present, there has been only a six-year interruption of Democratic representation in Congress of this Youngstown-based county. Its current representative, Tim Ryan, made a run for president. However, this post is not about him, its about his old boss.
Jim Traficant (1941-2014) came from a humble background and for a time tried out for professional football after his time playing college football, but he returned to his community and participated in efforts to combat illegal drug use. In 1980, he was elected sheriff of Mahoning County as a Democrat despite lacking party support. In office, he took a page from the book of William Langer in his refusal to enforce court orders to foreclose on ten unemployed mill workers on account of the 1981-82 recession. He was jailed for contempt of court for three days and then he agreed to go forth, but there is no support quite like what you can get from sticking your neck out for people like that. Unfortunately, like with Langer, this refusal to carry through the law here carried on to other matters. In August 1982, Traficant was indicted for accepting $163,000 in bribes from mobsters from Pittsburgh and Cleveland who had contributed to his campaign for sheriff in exchange for ignoring their activities. He was tried under the RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) Act. Traficant steadfastly refused to resign, stating, “To all those politicians who want me to resign: go fuck yourselves” (Langeveld). In an unconventional move, he opted to represent himself and argued before the court that he had taken the bribes as part of an undercover operation into corruption and that he had intended to entrap them. Normally, this would be the end of a budding political career, but in fact it was just the beginning. The jury bought it and he became the only person to ever win a RICO case representing himself.
Traficant in Congress, Part I: Democratic Rule, 1985-1995
As it turns out, it wasn’t only the jury that bought his story, it was also the voters who ousted Republican Lyle Williams in 1984, with Traficant prevailing by over seven points. The Democratic Party organization once again didn’t support him. This was his closest race, and he would easily win reelection thereafter. Traficant was a consistent foe of President Reagan and his record in this time was quite liberal. He continued to be fairly liberal for his next few terms and stood as a staunch foe of trade agreements, holding that they harmed working class Americans. Traficant held the same was true for immigration, legal and illegal. Indeed, there were cultural issues even in his more liberal years that he stood as a conservative on. Traficant also took an interest in defending people who were accused of Nazi war crimes. He along with Pat Buchanan came to the defense of retired Ohio autoworker John Demjanjuk, who was accused by Israel of being a particularly monstrous Ukrainian SS guard at Treblinka death camp nicknamed “Ivan the Terrible”. Although convicted, he would be released in 1993 as evidence from KGB files arose identifying a man who looked different named Ivan Marchenko as “Ivan the Terrible” (Laub). Traficant would fly to Israel to accompany Demjanjuk home. He was, however, a guard at Sobibor and would be convicted in 2009 in Germany and died during his appeal. In 1990, Traficant urged Arthur Rudolph, a former NASA scientist who had been accused by the Justice Department of atrocities regarding slave labor while working for the Nazis, to return to the United States to force the government to prove charges against him. He also charged that a “powerful Jewish lobby” was intimidating elected officials to not speak up on the case (The New York Times). This was one of the earliest signs of his anti-Semitism.
Beam Me Up! The Speeches of Traficant
Traficant was known for his rather shabby appearance in his wearing of denim jackets and an outrageous toupee but also for his colorful speeches on the floor of Congress, which he would often end with, “Beam me up”. His speeches covered complaints with the federal government and some matters that would be thought of as culture complaints. A few examples of these speeches are as follows:
“Mr. Speaker, a new report says only 7 percent of scientists believe in God. That is right. And the reason they gave was that the scientists are ‘super smart.’ Unbelievable. Most of these absent-minded professors cannot find the toilet. I have one question for these wise guys to constipate over: How can some thing come from no thing? And while they digest that, Mr. Speaker, let us tell it like it is. Put these super-cerebral master debaters in some foxhole with bombs bursting all around them, and I guarantee they will not be praying to Frankenstein. Beam me up” (Bresnahan).
“Madam Speaker, it started with the training bra and then it came to the push-up bra, the support bra, the Wonderbra, the super bra. There is even a smart bra. Now, if that is not enough to prop up your curiosity, there is now a new bra. It is called the holster bra, the gun bra. That is right, a brassiere to conceal a hidden handgun. Unbelievable. What is next? A maxi-girdle to conceal a Stinger missile? Beam me up! I advise all men in America against taking women to drive-in movies who may end up getting shot in a passionate embrace” (Camina).
“From the womb to the tomb, Madam Speaker, the Internal Rectal Service is one big enema. Think about it: They tax our income, they tax our savings, they tax our sex, they tax our property-sales profits, they even tax our income when we die. Is it any wonder America is taxed off? We happen to be suffering from a disease called Taxes Mortis Americanus. Beam me up!” (Camina)
While he had many fans in his district, he had few fans in Congress, his colleagues generally finding him to be an irritation.
Traficant in Congress Part II: The Republican Revolution
Starting with the Republicans winning Congress in the 1994 midterms, Traficant moved increasingly to the right, becoming more and more critical of the IRS and high taxes. He was also strongly pro-life. In Traficant’s first ten years in office, his average MC-Index score stands as a 15%, solidly but not extremely liberal. From 1995 to 2002, however, his average MC-Index score jumped to a 60%, with him scoring a 72% in his final term. His lifetime score was a 35%. In 2001, Traficant voted for Republican Dennis Hastert for speaker, a most unusual move even for someone ideologically out of step with their party. Not even the late Larry McDonald, the most conservative member of Congress to identify as a Democrat, crossed the aisle on that one. The Democratic leadership punished Traficant by stripping him of seniority and denying him committee assignments. Although there was speculation that Traficant would be joining the GOP, they were not interested in taking him in. This rendered him completely powerless in Congress and matters would get worse for him.
On May 4, 2001, Traficant was indicted on numerous corruption charges. Among them was that he demanded kickbacks of up to $2500 from his staffers a month for them to remain employed and that he accepted bribes from local businessmen in exchange for favors (Langeveld). He was convicted of all counts, including fraud, tax evasion, racketeering, and bribery in 2002. As sentencing was being considered for Traficant, Congress sought to expel him and the House Committee on Ethics held hearings. At the hearings, he engaged in his antics, threatening to call for the expulsion of members of the committee and expressing his desire to kick his prosecutor in the crotch (Langeveld). The Ethics Committee found Traficant guilty of nine counts of ethics violations and he was expelled from Congress by a vote of 420-1, with the sole dissenter being Gary Condit of California, who had already lost his bid for renomination. Traficant stands with Michael “Ozzie” Myers of Pennsylvania as the only two people to have been expelled from Congress since the War of the Rebellion. Eight days later, he was sentenced to eight years in prison yet ran for Congress as an Independent against his former aide, Democrat Tim Ryan, and won 15% of the vote. Although long disconnected from the mainstream of American politics, his conviction won him the sympathies of white nationalists and fringe right figures including David Duke and Willis Carto. They had remembered fondly his defenses of Rudolph and Demjanjuk as well as his butting heads with Jewish advocacy groups.
After his release from prison in 2009, Traficant became more outspoken against the income tax and called for the repeal of the 16th Amendment as well as the elimination of numerous cabinet departments. This got him attention from the Tea Party and he spoke at several of their events. He also became a columnist for Carto’s American Free Press, writing in his first article, “America needs to be informed—needs to hear and read the whole story, the truth, the facts and the dynamics of political action that secure and protect our freedom. Having said that, I encourage you to subscribe to AFP and read my weekly column. I plan to address the influence and power of AIPAC and its control over our very lives. The reason to abolish the Federal Reserve system; the reason to abolish our Communist progressive income tax; the absolute need to repeal the 16th Amendment to the Constitution; and my proposals to save and create jobs; to stop the hemorrhaging of our federal debt, to reverse our massive trade deficit and stop illegal immigration” and pledged to once again help John Demjanjuk (Smith). In 2010, Traficant tried to return to Congress, running as an Independent who wanted to repeal the income tax amendment. He also denied that he was guilty of the charges for which he had been imprisoned, stating, “Jim Traficant really didn’t commit any crime. I was the number one target of the Justice Department since 1983. And the number one target of a very powerful lobby, American Israel Public Affairs Committee” (Rayfield). Traficant would also speak at Freedompalooza in 2013 along with former Representative Cynthia McKinney (D-Ga.), an event sponsored by American Free Press and organized by Paul Topete, lead singer of the band “Pokerface” and virulently anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist (ADL). A year later, Traficant died from injuries sustained in a tractor accident.
Jim Traficant stands as a most bizarre figure in Congress, one whose rise to many seems inexplicable, but he had a way of appealing to the working-class people of his district by sharing many of their social values and was in truth a shrewd but deeply corrupt politician…no less of a figure could turn an (almost) air-tight mob bribery case into a 17-year Congressional career. It is strangely fitting that his career in national politics was essentially bookended between bribery cases.
Anti-Semites And Extremists To Host “Freedompalooza 2013” On July 4th Weekend. (2013, June 19). Anti-Defamation League.