Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Bath, Maine, United States

The collapsing US military & economic empire is making Washington & NATO even more dangerous. US could not beat the Taliban but thinks it can take on China-Russia-Iran...a sign of psychopathology for sure.

Friday, September 24, 2021

Truth about America: Democracy for sale to crooks & thieves


How Organized Crime Infiltrated American Business After WW II and Corrupted National Politics from Truman to Trump

By Jeremy Kuzmarov

Provocative new book documents the unsavory alliance between the Mafia, the CIA, and the corporate establishment that transformed America into “the world’s most dangerous nation”

During the years of the Trump presidency, popular and scholarly discussions of the erosion of U.S. political and legal norms frequently contrasted the Trump era with a supposed golden age of U.S. democracy in the mid-20th century.

Jonathan Marshall’s new book, Dark Quadrant: Organized Crime, Big Business, and the Corruption of American Democracy (Rowman & Littlefield, 2021) effectively challenges this narrative and the myth of the “greatest generation.”

The book details the largely neglected story of how well-protected criminals organized the corruption of U.S. politics and business at a national level after World War II.

Traditional U.S. historians, according to Marshall, have treated corruption as a “barely detectable eddy in the large current of events, with no lasting political or even moral significance.”

They ignore the ties between organized crime and dominant political figures, ranging from Harry S. Truman to Lyndon B. Johnson to Richard M. Nixon, along with the role of the mafia and CIA in subverting Third World nations.

As such, they present an incomplete picture, which plays into belief in “American exceptionalism”—that the country’s politics are more morally pure than other countries.

“Americans,” Marshall writes, “must arm themselves with greater knowledge of the long-neglected ‘dark quadrant’ of our national politics in order to shrink its power and strengthen our democracy.”

Harry Truman: The Pendergast’s Man


Harry S. Truman and Kansas City mafia boss Tom Pendergast


Marshall begins his story with Harry S. Truman, a failed businessman and law school student whose political rise was fueled by his backing by the mafia-linked Pendergast political machine in Kansas City.

Kansas City in the 1920s was a center for vice. Thomas J. Pendergast—who was convicted in 1939 on federal tax evasion charges—was the “ruling spirit behind” the “roaring business” of gambling, prostitution, bootlegging, the sale of narcotics and racketeering,” in partnership with political boss John Lazia, an ally of Al Capone’s Chicago outfit.

Truman’s political career began in 1922 when he was elected county court judge in Eastern Missouri as Pendergast’s hand-picked candidate.

Young Truman recorded in his diary how he let a former saloon keeper and murderer who was “a friend of the big boss,” as he termed Pendergast, steal about $10,000 from the general revenues of the county, though he rationalized the decision by claiming that it “kept the crooks from getting a million or more from public bond issues.”

In return for this and other political favors, Pendergast allies, such as Democratic National Committee (DNC) chairman Robert Hannegan, secured Truman’s nomination as Roosevelt’s running mate at the 1944 Democratic Party Convention in Chicago over Henry Wallace, an anti-fascist progressive who had the overwhelming support of the delegates.

See the rest of this sordid all-American story at CovertAction Magazine here


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