AUGUST   2020


Saturday, May 21, 2016


I doubt any critics will be surprised that on Thursday, 27 August, 1909 - opening day for the industrial test tack called the Indianapolis Motor Speedway -  two men were killed. The day began with Barney Oldfield setting a closed track speed record, covering a measured mile on the crushed stone and tar and water soaked  surface in 43 1/5 seconds – 84 miles per hour. And then Louis Chevrolet ran 4 laps (10 miles) around the 2 ½ mile oval in 8 minutes and 56 seconds – 67 miles per hour - another world speed record. But the centerpiece of the opening day was sponsored by a company that made natural gas lamps for automobiles, the “Prest-O-Lite 250 mile, $1,500 Trophy” race.
Even though there were only nine cars entered, the track surface quickly began to come apart. Arthur Chevrolet, driving a Buick, was lapping the field when, on lap 52, a stone kicked up by a slower car hit his goggles, driving glass fragments into his eye. Somehow he safely pulled off the track. Six laps later driver Wilfrid “Billy” Bourque, was warned by his riding mechanic Harry Holcombe of a car coming up from behind. While barreling down the main stretch at over 75 miles an hour, Wildrid looked over his shoulder, thus not seeing a deep rut torn in the surface just in front of the start/finish line.
The big steering wheel was jerked to the left, sending the car careening through a fence and slamming into the embankment of a drainage ditch. Following the laws of the conservation of energy, the back end of the car kept trying to continue at speed, lifting up to overcome the obstacle,  flipping the car upside down and catapulting the unrestrained passengers out of the cockpit. Harry Holcomb was hurled into a fence post, breaking both his arms, several of his ribs and smashing his skull. He died instantly. With a death grip on the over sized steering wheel Wilfrid "William" Bourque, stayed with the  2,300 pound car longer, slamming into the earth closer to the upended car.  Doctors found both of his legs were broken, one lung was punctured by broken ribs and his skull also fractured. He died without ever regaining consciousness. The Marion County coroner John J. Blackwell blamed the condition of the race track for the deaths.
But principle owner/promoter Carl Fisher (above), who was also an Indianapolis auto maker, insisted the track was safe. And Friday's races were held without incident. Then, on Saturday, 29 August, in front of more then 35,000 fans, the crushed stone track came apart again. This time a racer went off the track and plowed into the crowd. Again a riding mechanic was killed, this time along with two spectators, Homer Joliff, and James West. When another race car smashed into supports for a pedestrian bridge over the main stretch, the race was halted 65 laps short. Critics started calling the speedway “Fisher's Folly”.
But Carl was no fool. He canceled races set for October, and instead replaced the entire surface with 3,200,000 ten pound paving bricks. Guardrails were also installed on all four turns. “The Brickyard” was thus born, as was the myth that tragedies at the track immediately inspired new safety improvements. The first “Memorial Day 500 mile Sweepstakes” was held on Saturday, 27 May, 1911, and was won by Ray Harroun with his riding mechanic replaced by a rear view mirror, so Harroun would not have to turn his head to look for overtaking traffic. But in fact, Harroun's innovation inspired a rule requiring all cars to carry riding mechanics, which was not lifted until 1936, after another unlucky 13 riding mechanics had been killed at the track
Between the first tragic event in 1909 and 1950, 36 drivers and riding mechanics, two track workers and five spectators were killed at the Indianapolis Speedway, including 12 year old Wilbur Brink (above), who died while sitting in his own front yard at 2316 Georgetown Road . On Memorial Day, 1931 a rear wheel broke off a race car and came careening across the street, crushing the boy. It would be 1999 before wheel tethers would be required on all Indy cars to prevent that from happening again, or at lest make it less likely.
But who were these men who risked their lives to drive in circles in 1950?  Over half of the drivers who started the 1950 Indy 500 would die in racing accidents. The risks seem obvious today, because they still drove without seat belts (not required until 1956) roll bars (1959) or minimum standards for helmets (1960).  But to that generation of drivers, the dangers were accepted.  Almost without exception, they raced not because they loved speed, although they might. They raced because they were good at it, because if you won it paid better than an hourly wage, and even if you lost, it did not involve a much greater risk than construction or farming in the days before work place safety regulations.
In 1950 what may have been the most naturally talented driver who would ever race in Indianapolis  arrived at the track from California. His name was William “Bill” Vukovich; or to the press “The Mad Russian” or more accurately "The Silent Serb". His few friends just called him "Vuky". He was by all the accounts of those who saw him and who raced against him, the greatest natural driver they had ever seen. His father had been a carpenter who, on 13 December, 1923, had shot himself - on Bill’s 14th birthday. Vuky had to drop out of school to support his mother and his five brothers and six sisters. He began racing hot rods on the weekends, because he earned up to $15 for winning a race.
It was a cut throat competition. If Vuky didn’t win, his family might not eat. Vuky warned his older brother, when he took up the sport, “Don’t tangle with me. On the track you are just another driver.” By his 18th birthday Vuky was winning races regularly. And despite burns on his hands, broken shoulders, cracked ribs and a broken collar bone, all suffered in accidents, he was now earning up to $50 a week, at a time when the highest paid union workers (typesetters) were making $75 a week. 
To the local press, he became “The Fresno Flash”. Vuky didn’t smoke or drink and he stayed in shape by running daily.  All he cared bout was winning races. He was, in the words of one competitor, “…the epitome of excellence in motion”. And daring.  In one race Vuky so frightened his riding mechanic, the man could not stop screaming.  Finally, while the car was airborne yet again, Vuky took his hands off the wheel and told his complaining companion, “Okay, you drive it.” After the race the mechanic retired. But Vuky won that race. It was the age of “iron men in steel cars”, when trauma and fear were things to be endured but not talked about because nothing could be done to mitigate them. And the shy, quiet Yugoslavian with the lead foot seemed to fit that image.
Vuky couldn't get a ride on his first trip to Indianapolis in 1950, despite being the National midget car champion. But in the 1951 race, Vuky started in the 20th position and 15 laps later he was running 10th. Fifteen laps after that he was out of race with a broken oil tank. But for his 29th place finish, Vuky earned $750. And he earned respect. The next year he was hired to replace three time 500 winner Mauri Rose, who was retiring. With a competitive car under his hands, Vuky was leading the 1952 race when a steering pin broke with just 8 laps to go, sending him into a wall. He finished 17th.
In 1953, Vuky led 195 out of 200 laps and survived scorching temperatures (130 degrees Fahrenheit on the track, which caused one driver to die of heat prostration). And he won his first Indy 500 by 3 ½ minutes over the second place car of Art Cross .
 Vuky's purse was $89,496.00 (the equivalent of $760,000 today). And there can be no doubt, he won the race because of his skill. his physical conditioning, and because of his determination. 
But neither can there be any doubt, the victory and the effort were draining his body and mind. He was still running, still trying to prove himself worthy to a father who left.
The next year, 1954, Vuky won again, becoming only the third driver in history to win back-to-back 500’s. Roger Ward, who would go on to win two 500s himself, said that “Bill Vukovich was probably the greatest actual driver we have ever known…”. Vuky’s formula for success remained simple. "The only way to win here is to keep your foot on the throttle and turn left." The money was important, because Vuky had two growing children to support.
At the start of the 1955 race Vuky (above, left) and Jack McGrath (above, right) dueled through gusty winds for the lead. But Vuky took first place on lap 26 and never gave it up. By lap 48 he was leading McGrath by 10 seconds and had a full lap lead over 26 of the 33 other cars in the field. Then on lap 54 Jack McGrath dropped out with mechanical problems. Vuky seemed to be well on his way to an historic three straight Indy 500 wins.
Then, on lap 57 Vuky swept out of Turn Two and started down the 5/8 of a mile long back stretch. Just in front of him were the slower cars of Roger Ward,  NASCAR driver Al Keller and rookie Johnny Boyd. Vuky was approaching a window for a pit stop and he took the opportunity to glance down at his rear tires (the drive wheels) to check for wear. That may have been a fatal mistake, because suddenly things began to happen with lightening speed. A guest of wind had hit Ward’s car just as it came off the 14 degree banking of the second turn. This shoved him into the outside wall (above, smoke). No one caused it. It was a racing accident. 
Ward's car bounced off the wall sideways. The edge of both left side tires caught on the bricks, and his car flipped twice (above, right).  Keller steered left, away from of Ward’s car (above left).
Roger Ward' car landed right side up in the middle of the track (above center). Meanwhile, Keller (above left), trying to avoid spinning out on the infield  grass, turned his steering wheel to the right, back onto the tack. But he over corrected.
Keller clipped Al Boyd’s car, sending it in front of Vuky 's number 14.  In that instant, and just for that instant, the track was completely blocked. Nobody was to blame. It was the classic “racing accident”. Vuky’s left front tire struck Boyd’s spinning right front tire. The moving surface catapulted Vuky's car into the air. (above, right) at over 130 miles an hour.
 Vuky's car just cleared the low outside wall, and then came down nose first, the heavy engine driving itself into the pavement of the service road (above, center). Again, conservation of momentum drove the rear of Vuky's car forward, sending it head over tail, flipping down the service road. On that first flip, Vuky's head clipped the bottom of the pedestrian bridge (above, background) stretching over the backstretch, almost decapitating him. 
Having passed under the bridge, Vuky's car was now cartwheeling down the service road outside the wall. 
The nose of the roadster slammed into the hood of a parked car, tore across the hood of a red pickup truck (above)....
...and then crashed onto the top of a jeep, occupied by two national Guardsmen. 
Vuky’s car then flipped once more, before slamming into the ground  upside down (above, center), 400 feet  (2 city blocks) from where it had sailed over the fence at 130 miles an hour. Fire broke out from the ruptured fuel tank within seconds.
A friend of Vuky’s from Fresno, Ed “Smokey” Elisian, came out of the number two turn just after Vuky went over the wall. Sensing what had happened, he slid to a halt on the infield grass and then ran across the track (above, in white, center) almost being struck by another racer, desperate to reach his friend. 
He and others tried to lift the car to pull Vuky out, but the flames drove the would-be rescuers back. Ed Elisian kept repeating, “I’ve got to get him out.” But it was twenty minutes before fire equipment arrived (there were no fire engines stationed on the outside the track) and the car was finally cool enough to be tipped over to pull Vuky’s lifeless body out of the wreckage.
Looking at the car after the crash (above), it is difficult to believe a man died in it. The car remained largely intact, except for the cutting made to allow removal of Vuky's body. All of the violence of the impact had been transferred directly to the driver.

The fear and horror was that Vuky had died in the fire, burning alive while trapped under his car, trying to claw his way out (above). But the autopsy showed he had died before the fire ever broke out, from a basal skull fracture suffered while flipping under the pedestrian bridge. That obstruction would be removed the next year, in 1956, and replaced by a tunnel.
Bill Vukovich has a record never equaled at the Indianapolis Speedway, and one that may never be matched.  Now only did he lead the most laps for three years in a row, but he led 72% of all the laps he ran in competition at the Indianapolis Speedway. Could he have won three in a row? When asked, Vuky was pragmatic: "I plan on driving a couple of more years here anyway. And a guy can keep on winning here. He's got to have luck, sure, and the right combination. But it's not impossible. Nothing is impossible."   There was no second place for Bill Vukovich. And that is still true. He is buried in his home town of Fresno, California.
Details of the crash have been exhaustively researched by Rex Dean, whose web site offers a comprehensive and well written forensic account of Vuky’s final accident. The death toll at the speedway now totals 66, the last car driver killed being Tony Renna, who died in October 2003, in a crash during tire testing. The attendance on race day now exceeds 300,000 people. The average speed for the 33 racers for the 2015 Indy field was 223 miles per hour, and the winner covered the 500 miles in 3 hours and 5 minutes. Safely
Impressive, for a track designed in 1908, for cars averaging 90 miles per hour, in which safety was less of a concern than pushing the car to the breaking point of its parts. The human spirit, its courage and traumas, has survived the test track called the Indianapolis Speedway  for over a century.  But the cost has been high.
- 30 -

Friday, May 20, 2016


I want to talk about the human propensity for greed, by first discussing a small family of viruses which ignore humans completely -  the Potyviridae. These five related parasites, 100th the size of a bacteria, do not infect humans, but they do infect and quickly kill lilies – after all,  the word virus is Latin for poison. In response, lilies evolved the tulip,  resistant enough to the Potyviridae that they could reproduce for perhaps a dozen generations before succumbing to these miniature succubus. And that's when humans come into the picture, because long before humans knew there was such thing as a virus, they found a way to ruin their own lives, and the lives of thousands of their fellows, by using Potyviridae.
See, tulips evolved from lilies where Europe blends into Asia, in the Ferghana Basin, north of Afghanistan, east of the Caspian Sea and west of Lake Balkhash. The basin is surrounded by mountains, and in this isolated test tube 36 different varieties of wild tulips developed over a few thousand years. Some had multiple stalks and blooms, some only one. The blooms could be white, red, yellow or orange. But when infected with Potyviridae the blooms would be wildly stained as if a child had asymmetrically dripped paint over them. Then, the unexpected happened. In the 8th century, humans living in the Ferghana Basin converted to Islam, and tulip bulbs were transported westward to Islamic centers, as a beautiful curiosity, the more so because of the fanciful patterns they displayed when infected by Potyviridea, which traveled with its host bulb. And because the bulbs could be transported thousands of miles, because they were purely ornamental, and because they had to be replaced every decade or so,  to own and grow them became a display of extreme wealth, conspicuous consumption, restricted to the ruling caliphs in Baghdad and later Istanbul.
A century after Christopher Columbus – in 1593 - tulip bulbs were first planted in the Netherlands, by the botanist Carolus Clusius. His wealthy patrons were for the first time in history, not blue-blood royalty but the local burgomasters of the the town of Leiden. Recently freed from paying protection money to Spanish royalty, these Dutch Protestant capitalists were interested in just two things, making money, and showing everybody how much money they were making. The “Nouveau riche” adopted all the accouterments of their noble predecessors, including fine clothes, large homes, fancy carriages, personal portraits, and within ten years, ownership of the exotic tulip, so named because its bloom resembled a Turkish turban. And it was now that human greed enters our story, when tulips pass from being a de rigueur symbol of wealth, to a means of  measuring and achieving wealth.
The Lord, it seemed, had designed the tulip to make humans rich, and a few Calvinist ministers pointed this out. The plant blooms for only a week or two in the spring. And having proven its colors, after the leaves have died back, the bulb may be dug up and sold, before being returned to the soil for the winter. So the primary tulip market was set by the plant itself, every fall. The rest of the year traders would buy and sell future contracts on the bulbs in the ground, gambling on their future vitality, which, considering their pattern variations was being determined by a virus that was slowly killing the plant, was never a sure thing.  The futures market in tulips began to drive the price of tulips upward, until, within twenty years of Clusius' experiment - in 1610 - the burgomasters felt required to make it illegal to sell tulip futures “short”, meaning to gamble that the price for bulbs in the ground would drop before the next spring bloom.
A disaster in the tulip trade was predictable as far back as the summer of 1623, when a bulb of the rarest variety (only 10 existed), Semper Augusttus, was sold for a thousand guilders. The most skilled carpenters earned only 250 guilders a year, and Carolus Clusius, the man responsible for all of this, earned a mere 750 guilders a year. But when the bulb of the Semper Augusttus (above)  was pulled from the ground, it was found to have two “daughter” bulbs, meaning the value of each Semper Augusttus bulb had just been reduced by 15%. The owner of all 12 bulbs was the wealthy  Adriaan Pauw.  
The law against selling tulips short had been reaffirmed in 1621, and again in 1630, and yet again in 1636. Clearly many burgomasters saw the practice of betting on a catastrophe as dangerous. At the same time it seems safe to assume there were few bets being made that the price of tulip bulbs was going to go down, since no penalties were ever attached to a violation. The general feeling in Holland seems to have been (as it is in America today about the big banks and hedge funds ) that everybody could continue making money as long as everybody stayed greedy but smart. But that has never happened in all of human history. And it did not happen in 17th Century Holland - first because the traders were not trading in what they thought they were trading in, which was tulips, but in a virus which infected tulips. And second I have now arrived at the central theme of this essay -  greed makes you stupid.
Adriaan Pauw was smart. He kept the value of his Semper Augusttus high by the simple expedient of not selling his bulbs, which prevented anybody from noticing that they got weaker with each generation. But he did go to the expense of constructing a gazebo in his garden, covered in mirrors, to reflect his blooms during their brief existence. It also more than doubled the impression of his wealth. In 1624 Pauw's 12 prized  Augusttus were valued at 1,200 guilders each. The next year that went up to 2,000 guilders each, and in 1626 up to 3,000 guilders for a single bulb. Inflation spread like a virus to all varieties of tulips. During one two year period the price for a “General of Generals” bulb increased from 100 guilders to 750 guilders. On 5 February, 1637 at an auction held in the lake side fortress village of Alkmarr, 70 rare bulbs sold for 53,000 guilders, an all time high - several hundred million American dollars today. Who could resist such temptation? Not  Pauw.  He finally sold a single bulb of Augusttus for 5,500 guilders. But the bloom was about to fall off the rose.
Just two days earlier and 20 miles to the south in the village of Harrlem, a tulip investor club – called a college – decided to see how deep the demand for tulips really was. They held an auction of a huge quantity of common bulbs. Only one buyer showed up. Realizing he was the market, he demanded a 35 % discount. And he got it. And when word of this disaster reached Alkmarr prices of tulips collapsed like the price of baseball trading cards or houses in 2007.  Many varieties of tulips would quickly lose 95% of their value.
Families went bankrupt -  heads of households and sons committed suicide - how many has become a subject for much debate in economic circles. Many victims sought a new start in the New World. Said one Calvinist, it was “ God’s Just Plague-Punishment, for the attention of the well-to-do Netherlanders in this bold, rotten century.”  It was the usual, "Heads, God wins; tails human lose" philosophy. But why get God involved when there are so many lawyers around? There were endless lawsuits, because every buyer wanted out of their futures contracts and every seller wanted them enforced. So the politicians did nothing.   Most futures contracts were quietly closed out for 10-15% of their paper value.
A lot of people have tried to claim the Tulip Mania  was not a “market bubble”, like all the other market bubbles since. But the best description of what went wrong that I have found was written by A Maurits van der Veen, from the Virginia college of William and Mary. (BUBBLE)   He wrote in 2009, “ became increasingly difficult to distinguish those with solid private knowledge from those who were simply following the crowd... these constituted a new kind of trade, no longer linked to individual bulbs.” In other words, greed driven investors were betting not on tulips, but on other tulip investors - call it the tulip derivatives market. That was where the market had first blown up. Sounds like a market bubble to me. And when Tulip mania died, so did some of the most valuable tulips, because their viruses were not passed on. There has not been a Semper Augusttus bloom since the middle of the 17th century.
There are many who still insist the Semper Augusttus was the most beautiful tulip that ever existed, as there are many who insist an unregulated “free market” is morally and functionally superior to regulated markets. But Semper Augusttus was not a true species, but the by-product of Potyviridae devouring the tulip from the inside, consuming its genetic code, and eventually killing the bulb and flower.  It lived no longer than the rich man who had the fortune to maintain its artificial existence.  Modern tulips are far stronger,  their colors symmetrical, and more resistant than the frail infected flowers that so entranced the “Nouveau riche” of 1637. And because of that, billions of people today enjoy tulips  Some day, perhaps, the nouveau riche of a new age will come to admit that like the Potyviridea infected tulip, an unregulated  “free market”, is merely a splash of color which distracts your attention from the parasite devouring capitalism from the inside - unrestricted uninhibited greed.
- 30 -


I don't believe Samuel Dickstein was a communist. In fact the diminutive eleven term nattily dressed Congressman was the creator of the infamous, virulent anti-communist House Un-American Activities Committee. His primary justification in creating this step child of democracy was to combat Nazi infiltration of American politics, but he also called communists “high binders and hoodlums”, and once invited several communist party members to his home, where he welcomed them with subpoenas printed on pink paper. So, I see little evidence that Dickstein was a communist. He was an arrogant, loud obnoxious bully, with the morals of an investment banker. He did take money from the Communists, but for him that was just business. You see, Samuel Dickstein, was very aptly named.
Hiawatha was an Indian, so was Navajo. Paleface organ-grinders killed them many moons ago; But there is a band of Indians that will never die. When they're at the Indian Club, Big Chief sits in his tepee, and this is their battle cry: Tammany, Tammany. Swamp 'em, swamp 'em, Get the wampum, Tammany!”
Samuel Dickstein was one of last tigers promoted by Tammany Hall chief “Silent Charlie” Murphy (above). “Ominously shrouded in silence, mystery and power”, Commissioner Murphy commanded the machine which had dominated New York politics since Aron Burr, in 1797. Mr. Murphy followed a simple rule: “Never write when you can speak. Never speak when you can nod. Never nod when you can blink”. In fact, that was about the only thing Charles Murphy was ever quoted as saying. One fourth of July, when the Commissioner did not join in singing the national anthem, a supporter nervously suggested, “Maybe Murphy didn't want to commit himself”. But in 1922 the taciturn Murphy committed to his his doppelganger, the diminutive, argumentative, loud and often offensive state representative Samuel Dickstein, to be Tammany Hall's federal Congressman from the Lower East Side of Manhattan.
On the island of Manhattan by the bitter sea, Lived this tribe of noble Red Men, tribe of Tammany,
From the Totem of the Greenlight,  Wampum they would bring,”
The Lithuanian born Samuel Dickstein (above) was an early member of the two million Ashkenazim Jews driven out of Russia and Poland, who came to America   Between 1880 and 1923, as many as 110,000 new Yiddish speakers a year poured into the cramped neighborhood bordered by the East River, 14th Street on the north, Houston Street on the south and Greenwich Village and Astor Place to the west - the 12th Congressional district of the cantor's son, Samuel Dickstein.  So intense was life on the Lower East Side, it was the source for the modern image of American Jews.  Then, in 1924, new antisemitic immigration laws chocked off the flood of new arrivals. 
When their big Chief Man Behind, They would pass the pipe and sing. Tammany, Tammany. Swamp 'em, swamp 'em, Get the wampum, Tammany!”
At the urging of Tammany Hall, the freshman Congressman was appointed to the Immigration and Naturalization Committee.  Dickstein's constituents favored liberal immigration laws. Fellow committee member, the bombastic Texas Democrat Thomas Blanton, insisted some of his best friends were Jews, but he wanted to stop all immigration for ten years.(Sound familar?)  “Let us assimilate those we have before we take in others,” he argued.   The restrictive yearly immigration quotas of 1924 were a compromise in the cultural wars of the roaring twenties.
If we'd let the women vote, they would all get rich soon. Think how old man Platt gave all his money to a con. Mrs. chadwick is a girl, who'd lead in politics. She could show our politicians lots of little tricks, the Wall street vote she'd fix.”
Just a year later, in August of 1925, “The Saturday Evening Post” noted the new rules had produced a gray market, fueled by 10,000 desperate transients in Canada, willing to pay $500 for a permit to legally cross the U.S. border . Dickstein (above, center) told Time Magazine another 40,000 had already been smuggled in from Cuba. And he should know, because he was already profiting by selling entrance visas out of his capital hill office. His capitalistic enterprise grew even larger after Saturday, 4 March, 1933, when the 73rd Congress was sworn in and Samuel Dickstein became Chairman of the Immigration and Naturalization Committee. He was already disliked because of what Rep. Lindsay Warren of North Carolina called his ““itch and flair for publicity and advertisement.”.  As if the congressman from North Carolina ever turned down either of those.
Tammany, Tammany, Stick together at the poll, you'll have long green wampum rolls. Tammany, Tammany. Politicians get positions.”
Still looking for a wedge issue, in a December 1933 radio broadcast, Dickstein called Nazi Germany “the most dangerous threat to our democracy that has ever existed”, and added, “I will name you 100 (Nazi) spies who have entered this country....”  The response in his district was so positive that in March of 1934, he proposed spending $25,000 for an investigation of  “Un-American Activities” by Nazi agents . But few non-Jewish Americans in 1934 thought Hitler posed a threat. After meeting the German Chancellor, newspaper magnate William Randolph Hurst said only “Hitler is certainly an extraordinary man.”  In response to Dickstein's motion, Congressman Blanton mocked “the so-called persecution of the Jews in Germany”.  Dickstein then challenged Blanton to step outside for a fist fight. United Press reported that one party leader mused,  I'm still undecided which is worse... to allow more Dicksteins to come in, or...raise more home-grown Blanton's” 
Chris Columbo sailed from Spain, across the deep blue sea, Brought along the Dago vote to beat out Tammy. Tammany found Columbo's crew were living on a boat, Big Chief said: "They're floaters," and he would not let them vote, To the tribe he wrote.”
In the end the “Un-American Activities” Committee was authorized, but given just $10,000, and Dickstein (above)  was forced to share the chairmanship with Representative John McCormack, an Irish Catholic from South Boston. After the vote, when Dickstein asked for three minutes to make some closing remarks, the House voted him down.
Tammany, Tammany. Get those Dagoes jobs at once, they can vote in twelve more months. Tammany, Tammany, Make those floaters Tammany voters, Tammany”
Still, between 26 April and 29 December, 1934, the committee heard testimony that Nazi Minister of Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, had hired an American lobbyist to put a positive spin on the burning of Jewish shops and synagogues, that Rep. Louis McFadden of Pennsylvania had allowed the Iowa Nazi “Silver Shirts of America” to use his franking privileges to mail antisemitic, pro-Nazi propaganda for free, that thugs had silenced anti-Hitler sentiments in the German-American community. But after 4,300 pages of testimony, McCormack kept the conclusions of the final report conservative - “To the true and real American, communism, Nazism, and fascism are all equally dangerous...equally unacceptable to American institutions.” And as quickly as that bland statement was issued, Samuel Dickstein had lost his wedge issue.
Fifteen thousand Irishmen from Erin came across, Tammany put these Irish Indians on the Police force. I asked one cop, if he wanted three potatoes or four, He said, "Keep your old potatoes, I've got a cuspidor, What would I want with more?"
As the 1936 elections approached, a letter to the New York Herald Tribune labeled Dickstein;s claims of Nazi subversion as “red keep his name on the front page”, and Rep. Maury Maverick of Texas called his claims “just a lot of noise...”. Dickstein responded by naming 46 Nazi “propagandists, agents, stool pigeons and spies” at work in America. The Herald noted Dickstein's list had shrunk, and added, “With cooler weather, it may shrink further”. In fact most of the names had been published earlier in the book “The Brown Network”, by William Francis Hare, who had served in British Intelligence. Dickstein's constituents did not seem to mind. They re-elected him that November with 86% of the vote.
Tammany, Tammany. Your policeman can't be beat, They can sleep on any street. Tammany, Tammany, Dusk is creeping, they're all sleeping, Tammany.”
In the summer of 1937 Dickstein was approached by an Austrian member of the Communist Party, seeking to obtain American citizenship. Dickstein agreed to help, for $3,000. The Soviet Security Agents, the NKVD, learned that Dickstein headed “a criminal gang that was involved in...selling passports, illegal smuggling of people...”. Evidently Dickstein knew of their interest, because over the Christmas holidays he offered his services to them. The NKVD station chief, Gaik Ovakimyan, felt the need to warn his bosses, “We are fully aware of whom we are dealing with...This is an unscrupulous type, greedy for money...a very cunning swindler.” They eventually agreed to pay him $1,250 a month, at a time when the average American family survived on less than $180 a month  Dickstein was given the Russian code name, “Zhulik” - in English, Crook.
When Reformers think its time to show activity, They blame everything that's bad on poor old Tammany. All the farmers think that Tammy caused old Adam's fall. They say when a bad man dies he goes to Tammany Hall, Tammany's blamed for all.”
With another election cycle coming up in 1938, Dickstein urged Congress to fund another investigation. They did, but appointed the staunch anticommunist Texas Democrat Martin Dies as its Chairman. Dickstien was not even offered a seat on the new House Un-American Activities Commission (HUAC). His new Soviet contact, Peter Gitzeit, was disappointed, even after Dickstein dutifully denounced the Dies Committee as “a Red-baiting excursion”. And still, Dickstein kept asking for more money. Gitzeit cabled Moscow that the Congressman claimed he had sold information to Polish and British Intelligence “and was paid good money without any questions.” But clearly Gitzeit was fed up with the egotist, telling Moscow, “Apparently, he really managed to fool the Poles and the English”  In February of 1940, the NKVD stopped returning Dickstein's calls.
Tammany, Tammany, When a farmer's tax is due, he puts all the blame on you. Tammany, Tammany, On the level you're a devil, Tammany.”
Samuel Dickstein left Congress in 1945, after he was redistricted out of office. The Tammany Hall machine secured him a seat on the New York State Supreme Court, a position he still held when he died at the age of 69, on 22 April, 1954. The Tammany Hall machine kept clunking along for another twenty years until it was finally dismantled. And as we all know, ever since, politics in the state of New York have been as pure as the driven snow.
Tammany's chief is digging out a railroad station here, He shuts off the water mains there, on folks who can't buy beer. He put in steam shovels, to lay off the workingmen. Tammany will never see a chief like him again, He's the poor man's friend.”
On that same Dickstein died - Thursday, 22 April 1954 -  in Washington, D.C., the United States Senate held the first session of the Army-McCarthy Hearings. Joseph McCarthy (above), the junior Senator from Wisconsin, had first blazed onto the scene with a 1950 speech in Wheeling ,West Virginia, in which he claimed to have a list of either 205 or 57 communists working at the U.S. State Department. McCarthy's blend of bombast and arrogance should have sounded familiar to the constituents of New York's old 12th district. But “Tail Gunner” Joe was far more successful that Samuel Dickstein. McCarthy was not distracted by fortune hunting – the new kid on the block was only interested in fame.
Tammany, Tammany. Murphy is your big Chief's name, he's a Rothschild just the same. Tammany, Tammany, Willie Hearst will do his worst to Tammany.”
Tammany Hall Words by Vincent Bryan Music by Gus Edwards 1903
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