Monday, February 21, 2011
Group Therapy: Egypt on the Isthmus
Senator Robert M. LaFollette Jr. revealed in the 1930s that US capital financed industrial espionage. His committee found that the National Association of Manufacturers' action arm, the American Legion, often broke up union gatherings wearing their old US military uniforms and used guns, chemical weapons, etc. Representative Voorhis of Orange County California conducted similar investigations in the House. And Florida Senator Claude Pepper met with Josef Stalin and came back arguing that pouring the two erstwhile superpowers' wealth into defense industry apparatchiks' pockets would bankrupt both of them. (Peppers would not be proven right for three more decades with Reagan's deficit reaching a trillion in 1981 -- estimated as much as 120 trillion now -- and Stalin running out of cash in 1991.
Prescott Bush -- whom Senator Joseph Nye revealed in 1934, laundered Nazi money with Brown Brothers Harriman -- convened a group of Wall Street heavies to raise enough cash to oppose LaFollette and Pepper. (The group backed Nixon against Voorhis, but California underboss Mickey Cohen did the major fund raising for Nixon). The tactics -- lie, cheat, intimidate and pay off the newspapers -- differed little from what Nazi's did to win elections over social democrats and communists in 1933. And the results were the same: Pepper retired, LaFollette "lost" the primary to Joseph McCarthy, and Nixon's election would be the perfect nexus of organized crime (OC) and organized capital (OC).
Bob LaFollete Jr.'s death about 2 years later, said to be suicide, seemed to mark a maturation of OC's power over the political process in America. Yet if it took Egyptians 30 years of Mubarak to break the chains constricting around their throats, it's taken Wisconsin's unions closer to 60 to recognize how politics is run in the biggest of the Axis powers, long after the war was over. Said former Madison Mayor, Paul Soglin, who now runs the LaFollette School of Public Affairs at the University of Wisconsin, this is the biggest union action in 100 years. "We stand with you," said Egyptian union leader Kamal Abbas, "as you stood with us." But it won't be so easy here as it was in Egypt. Here we have American journalism.