U.S. History 101

Published: 4/23/2019 6:08:43 AM

Regarding accusations by two women that former Vice President Joe Biden inappropriately touched them, a New York Times columnist David Leonhardt commentary quoted a letter to the Times: “Men were acculturated to behave in ways that ignored the sensibilities of women, and that is no longer acceptable … I struggle to understand how it is helpful to render men like Mr. Biden ‘unfit’ because of behaviors that were so deeply woven into the social fabric of this country.”

My own view is that in spite of hearing credible evidence of likely much worse behavior by Clarence Thomas in 1991, Judiciary Committee Chairmen Biden gave Thomas a pass, allowing him to become the most radically partisan interpreters of our Constitution in the long history of the Supreme Court. Biden remains tainted.

Worse, he is kin to establishment Democrats who, in 1944 forced Vice President Henry Wallace off President Roosevelt’s re-election team, diverting the U.S. away from FDR’s elaborate designs for a peaceful post-war world and into the Cold War.

Biden is one of those establishment Democrats who, as super delegates in 2016, swung the nomination from Bernie Sanders to establishment choice, Hillary Clinton.

What the Democratic Party needs is a progressive, socially concerned candidate who can lead the country to universal health insurance; protection of a woman’s rights to choose; comprehensive protection of voting rights; termination of the Electoral College; re-focus on global warming and environmental protections; end denial of Palestinian rights; a shift of our obscene corporate-driven military spending to that addressing social needs — which, when ignored, are the cause of conflicts; free college tuition; and raising the minimum wage, the rights of workers to organize and equal pay for women.

We need legislation reversing the Supreme Court’s “Citizen’s United” decision that made corporations equal to people, an end to the buying of elections, and appropriate taxation of corporations and billionaires to pay the costs of restoration of our Constitution and provision for the people’s needs.

Concluding the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln created, from our disparate states, for the first time, the “United States.” Assassination denied fulfillment of his plan to bind the wounds of war. This left freed people in a struggle for justice and equality, unfulfilled now 154 years on.

The economic power of the United States, first driven by slavery, was enhanced by Gilded Age brokers. Rockefeller, Astor, Morgan and others’ exploited labor of the worlds’ hungry immigrants recruited and arriving to work the farms, build the railroads, and toil, often in unhealthy and unsafe conditions in factories, for 12 hours a day, six days a week.

This rampant greed countered progressives and labor unions efforts to gain against a corrupt economic system - until it collapsed in 1929’s Great Depression. Struggling to survive, people hoped for better times with FDR’s New Deal economic programs. (Yes, these programs made big business very unhappy.)

World War II helped end the depression and brought billions in war profits flowing to the corporations. Alongside producing the consumer goods needed after the war, government contractors wanted to continue their profitable production of weapons for war.

Lockeed’s current price for the F-35 fighter plane is $90 million each. The Defense Department has ordered 141 of them. What “useful items” could this buy? Do the math.

FDR’s planning for the post-war world could have prevented the Cold War. The weapons industry wanted sales.

In his Farewell Address, President Eisenhower warned us what was happening. You can read his warning online.

His successor, JFK, understood that warning and explored with Russian Premier Nikita Khrushchev how to end the Cold War. Strike one. JFK repeatedly blocked the Joint Chiefs’ desire to invade Cuba. Strike two. He also issued an order that would have withdrawn U.S. advisors from Vietnam. Strike three.

In Dealy Plaza, in Harlem’s Audubon Ballroom, at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, and in a kitchen pantry of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, four loved and powerful political leaders who sought an end to the Vietnam War were targeted for murder so that war could continue.

Lyndon Johnson said to the Joint Chiefs: “Help me get re-elected in 1964 and you can have your war.”

Corporations produced 11,827 helicopters. Then there are all the other weapons. We need to do the math.

Charlemont resident Carl
Doerner is an author and
historian currently at work
on a re-examination of and
challenge to the prevailing
“American narrative.”

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