Wednesday, May 03, 2017

That Was Then - This Is Then

Two historical thugs

Bad Joe
Yesterday, May 2, was a milestone anniversary for any student of history. On May 2, 1957 - sixty years ago - The junior senator from Wisconsin, Joseph R. McCarthy, died at the Bethesda Naval Hospital at the age of forty-eight. McCarthy, whose entire adult life had been plagued by the disease of alcoholism, had increased his intake demonstrably in the last three years of his life. The 1954 confrontation with the U.S. Army that he foolishly engineered wound up being his fatal overstep. After a four-year career of slander and innuendo, destroying the lives and careers of scores of government officials and politicians  with false accusations of disloyalty, Joe's luck had finally run out. His career as the slanderer supreme commenced in 1950 when the freshman senator remarked in a speech to a women's group in Wheeling, West Virginia that he had  - in his hand - a list of 219 employees of the State Department who were active members of the Communist Party. It was all nonsense, of course, but like a strung-out jazz musician who had finally discovered the "new sound", poor old, drunken Joe had found the new cause.
 
"Are you now or have you ever been
a member of the Communist Party?"

Good Joe
In June of 1954 Joe made the astounding claim that the United States Army's radar facility in Fort Monmouth, New Jersey was crawling with commies. During the historic, thirty-six days of the Army/McCarthy Hearings during the Spring of that year, the gasbag from Wisconsin finally met his match in the form of the Army's mild mannered counsel, Joseph N. Welsh. When McCarthy let loose with the charge that a young lawyer in Welsh's Boston law firm, Fred Fisher, was a card carrying communist, Welsh came back with words that tolled the bells of doom for the embattled senator. Bear in mind that when Welsh uttered these damning words, every home in the United States with a television set (and millions more with a radio) were tuned in to the unfolding drama. Looking at ancient kinescopes of those hearings today, it must have been a riveting spectacle to witness live:
 
"Let us not assassinate this lad further, Senator; you've done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?"
 
You can see at this point McCarthy literally dissolving in humiliation. At that moment, Tail Gunner Joe's career as a senator effectively ended. A good and decent New England lawyer had exposed him for all time and eternity as the contemptible scoundrel he was.

He was dead in three years.
 
I wanted to write about this yesterday but  was completely distracted by the continuing implosion of the presidency of Donald J. Trump. Sixty years of historical research tells us that Senator McCarthy was mentally ill. More than anything, at least in retrospect, he is a figure of pity. In the era he lived, he wasn't the despised  demagogue we recoil at today. He had a huge following of friends and admirers who filled any arena that he spoke in. More than hated (at least publicly) he was deeply feared by his enemies. Only in hindsight does Joe McCarthy come sharply into focus as the comical oaf and buffoon he is viewed as today. Sixty years later it is difficult to imagine anyone ever taking the decrepit, rumpled  old bastard seriously.

It's ironic that in 1954 there was only one Joe McCarthy. In 2017 the halls of congress are, quite literally, crawling with McCarthy wannabes. Texas senator, Ted Cruz, springs immediately to mind as the most McCarthy-like senator in recent memory. Things have gotten that completely weird.

It didn't take the rest of us too long to understand what a complete, demagogue and fool Donald Trump is - or, at least, those of us who bothered to pay attention. Between the years 1947 and 1957, as unhinged and dangerous as old Joe was as a politician in the national spotlight, no one seriously thought that there was even a molecule of a chance that he would one day find himself living in the Executive Mansion at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Here's a little historical comparison to ponder: One of the more alarming developments regarding the new Trump administration is the fact that they have been gutting the State Department. Career diplomats with an accumulated centuries worth of experience between them have been given the ax. The same thing happened during the era of the communist witch hunts in the fifties. During the Truman and Eisenhower administrations, untold scores of people at State were sent packing by paranoid right wing politicians of both parties. The result was the foreign policy disasters of the sixties and seventies, Vietnam being the most notable debacle.

“Those who cannot remember the past
are condemned to repeat it."
 
George Santayana
 
Roy Boy
`
I think it is instructive that one of Trump's early and most imporatant mentors was Roy Cohn. In case you've forgotten him, he was a key player in McCarthy's "investigating" committee. Roy was about as despicable a creature that ever snaked its way through the moldy pages of the American history books. He and some jackass named David Schine made headlines during the fifties when, with McCarthy's blessing, they went on a crusade, plundering American libraries all across Europe, purging the shelves of books that were not - in their view -  ideologically "pure".  A closeted homosexual, he would take gleeful pleasure from destroying the careers of other closeted homosexuals - whether through blackmail or exposure. Trump has always said that Cohn's influence on him was incalculable. Two birds of a rancid feather. Cohn died of AIDS in 1986 at the age of fifty-nine, adamantly denying his sexuality till the very end - the worst kept secret in his hometown of New York City.

Over the past weekend it has become clear to the most casual observers that there is something seriously, psychologically wrong with Donald Trump. This has been obvious for decades to people who have studied this guy. But his scattered thought and speech patterns have become even more alarming than usual. Donald Trump personifies what we've allowed ourselves to become as a nation. He is the roadmap to where we are heading. I've got a little hint for you: It's not a good place.

This is going to end badly. Get used to living in a country in ruins. Enjoy your stay in Idiot Nation.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

SUGGGESTED READING:

No Sense of Decency: The Army/McCarthy Hearings
By Robert Shogan

How Joe McCarthy was taken down by Joseph Welsh, and the moment television became a  major force in breaking news.

AFTERTHOUGHT:

Yesterday was also the forty-fifth anniversary of the passing of McCarthy's pal, the red-baiting, uber racist director of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover. Ain't American history a riot?


17 Comments:

At 6:56 PM, Blogger Bill said...

Ted Cruz, for one, is Joe McCarthy reincarnated.

 
At 11:00 AM, Blogger Pappyz said...

Idiot Nation is correct, it's just not humorous in any way.
I'm scared for my kids and grand kids.

 
At 11:45 AM, Blogger T. Paine said...

Ted Cruz is Joe McCarthy? Bill, please do elaborate on this, because I am missing the similarities.

Mr. Degan, one wonders what you would have had to write about if Trump had lost to the egregious and pernicious Hillary? You do indeed seem to be in full-throated roar about the foolish Trump on every post you make. Some of your points are well-taken and have some merit, but most are more light than heat and are indeed nothing more than ineffectual "rants", sir.

But then again, I imagine much the same could be said for a lot of my writing too, so at least you and I are in good company, sir. ;)

 
At 10:17 AM, Blogger The New York Crank said...

I'm old enough to have been there, during the McCarthy era and remember being glued to our family's black-and-white 12-inch TV screen during Joseph Welch's "at long last, Senator" speech. McCarthy was no candidate for pity. He was an arrogant and powerfully polarizing figure. You either believed he was ridding America of insidious "Commies" and "pinkos" and "fellow travelers" who were undermining our...uh...something-or-other. Or you listened to him for 90 seconds and felt your skin begin to crawl. No revisionist empathy is required for the vicious bastard. I don't really believe in heaven or hell, but if I'm wrong, he is most assuredly skewered on a spit and turning slowly for eternity over a roaring fire. As well he deserves.

Yours crankily,
The New York Crank

 
At 1:09 PM, Blogger Mozart1220 said...

T. Paine, bringing up Hillary like a good conservative. HILLARY IS NOT THE ONE TRYING TO DESTROY THE UNITED STATES!

I wonder if Clucky will post more drivel from his favorite COMMUNIST websites?

I always loved the term "fellow traveler" though. ;)

 
At 4:33 PM, Blogger Dave Dubya said...

The dark heart of McCarthyism is alive and well inside most American conservatives. They are indoctrinated by their propagandists to believe liberals are commies.

They WILL play the red baiting commie card whenever capitalism, or even tax cuts for the rich, are questioned.

Just like the fascists of Germany did to educators, journalists, socialists, Jews, etc, in the 1930s. Fellow travelers, perhaps?

 
At 9:51 PM, Blogger Majormajor said...

Nope Mozart, I'll just post your stupid quotes and see if your explain them in a rational intelligent manner. Odds are you cant'.

"Every time your heroes cut taxes it's 99% for the richest people" Source please.

"the "rich" steal 98% of the nations wealth" Source please.

"WE THE PEOPLE who do all the work and pay all the taxes expect the federal government to include us and not just the top 2%."... How many times have I provided you sources and links to govt websites that show just who pays federal income tax by income level? And it's not the bottom income earners by any stretch of even your imagination. It's the top 52% of income earners who pay federal income taxes, not the bottom 48%. I think it is time for the bottom 48% to give a BIG thank you those who are footing their part of the bill.

"there is no time in the history of our nation, when cutting taxers helped anyone but the rich." REALLY? Source please.

"income-inequality-on-rise-for-decades-is-now-highest-since-1928" Published in 2015, Mozart, who was president in 2015?

Comrade Dave, when will you disavow the group of liberals who call themselves Antifi?

 
At 12:50 PM, Blogger Mozart1220 said...

I see clucky is getting his feathers ruffled.

While he attempts to tell us that what we see before our very eyes is a lie.

And he STILL won't answer simple questions.

Will trump have everyone who disagrees with him "investigated" now?

 
At 3:53 PM, Blogger Michael Stivic said...

Hey Jefferson,

What day did the House pass the AHCA?

 
At 11:26 PM, Blogger Majormajor said...

Mozart,

You are pathetic.

 
At 9:00 AM, Blogger Jefferson's Guardian said...

Michael Stivic: "What day did the House pass the AHCA?"

It may as well be Day 1,400. In their baffoonery haste to do something -- anything -- most of the stupid-ass Republicans pushed through a crappy piece of legislation that will ultimately prove to be their "Waterloo".

"The old bill — which had a 17 percent approval rating and would have left 24 million more people uninsured, according to a Congressional Budget Office analysis — lost moderates concerned about coverage losses, as well as hard-line conservatives who thought it didn’t go far enough in rolling back the Affordable Care Act’s regulations."

Now we get to watch the Senate really muck it up. LOLOL

And did you catch Trump's remark to Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull? Here, let me provide the quote and link for you:

"'It's going to be fantastic health care,' Trump said, referring to [the May 4th] passed health care bill. 'I shouldn't say this to our great gentleman and my friend from Australia because you have better health care than we do.'"

So either Trump is a total imbecile, and doesn't know that Australia has universal healthcare - like every other western industrialized nation on this earth - or he's a genius and is going to push the Senate to provide the same. ;-)

My money's on "imbecile".

 
At 2:23 PM, Blogger Mozart1220 said...

Clucky, you still can't answer questions, and your ability to deflect and deny has not flagged.


Your boy announced to the world that the job was too hard for him and he wants to go home. He lost an entire carrier group. TWO Navy Seals are dead, BILLIONS in bombs fired, no effect on our enemies except to get them laughing at us.

As we speak, more evidence is being presented implicating Trump in collusion with Russia and Treason against the United States

Yeah, I'm "pathetic".

 
At 2:27 AM, Blogger H REVYAGA said...

The commies are still trying to get into the UNITED STATES, the past elections prove that not only here but in other countries latest victim France. If any one in the Trump presidency had their hand in for political or financial motives they need to be exposed. May be if they want a friendship with Putin they need to go live in Russia

 
At 12:16 PM, Blogger Majormajor said...

Mozart,

“Do you have evidence that there was in fact collusion between Trump associates and Russia during the campaign?” CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked California Sen. Dianne Feinstein during an interview on Wednesday.

“Not at this time,” she responded.

“Well, that’s a pretty precise answer,” Blitzer said.

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee that he was not aware of any evidence demonstrating collusion.

Mozart, you are pathetic.

 
At 7:25 PM, Blogger H REVYAGA said...

Usually when some one is hiding something they don't want a investigation. The only way to find out is spend time and money. I believe there is plenty of money left in the inauguration fund, if Trump wants to be cleared of any shenanigans release your taxes and let the investigation go thru.

 
At 11:33 PM, Blogger TRACY IRELAND said...

Thanks Tom especially for bringing up Roy Cohn. You would be
surprised at the number of people who do not realize that he 45s mentor. I hope that he will be exposed before it is too late

 
At 11:36 PM, Blogger TRACY IRELAND said...

That was excellent!

 

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