the Secretary of State but “the junior senator from New York.” The bitterest moment was Johnson’s accusation that the blood of American boys will be on Kennedy’s hands. Johnson told Kennedy that the United States is winning the war, and “All you doves will be dead politically in six months.” As he left, Senator Kennedy fenced with reporters to conceal the true nature of the meeting. However, one reporter asked him if he had given the President the Pope’s blessing, as the Pope had asked that he do, and Kennedy replied that he had tried, but he hadn’t been able to get a word in. It was in this context that Kennedy prepared and delivered his speech on the Senate floor calling for the cessation or U.S. bombing in Vietnam: R. D. No Help for Congressman Patman Washington, D.C. In a Congress that is otherwise quiescent if not moribund, the dismantling of Cong. Wright Patman’s instrument panel in the House Banking Committee should have caused a great uproar. But it did not. President Johnson did not come to his assistance, nor did he speak out to rally the Democrats of Congress behind Patman, who may not be the most important man in Congress to Texans but is surely the most important Texan in Congress to the nation generally. Patman had already worked up a good head of steam in the last Congress and his investigation into the secret power structure of the nation’s banking industry was ready to start producing some real disclosures this session. The bank ownership study is the only live study carried over from the 89th to the 90th Congress. All the material for the study is in, all the raw material. Remaining undone is the task of sifting. No telling what is in the batch of data Patman subpoenaed from the banks. Undoubtedly the names of some Congressmen and other politicians Texas politicians included are there, in some interesting involvements. Patman sent out 4,000 questionnaires to banks, stockbrokers, and insurance houses. The big question: Who actually owns the stock? Leading the opposition to Patman’s investigation was, and is, Cong. Lud Ashley, a Democrat from Ohio, one of those holier-than-thou Northern liberals who vote for the Negro in civil rights matters on economic matters. The Cleveland Trust Co. has been hammered hard by Patman in his investigation, and Ashley is known as a friend of Cleveland Trust. In an interview with the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Ashley admitted that he received support from financial institutions in his last campaign that he had never received before. Could this be because Ashley is the man on Patman’s committee most willing to sabotage the present investigation? Patman thinks so. 10 The Texas Observer Texas Society to Abolish Capital Punishment memberships, $2 up P.O. Box 8134, Austin, Texas 7871E Robert Sherrill I N ANY EVENT, while Patman was able last Congress to hold Ashley and his followers at bay, Democratic losses in the last election changed all that. Previously the Democratic majority was 22 to 11, which meant that Ashley had to have five other Democrats to overrule Patman. This year, with the 19 to 14 partisan lineup, Ashley knew he was in a position to recruit enough Democratic defectors to go with the solid Republican opposition to a banking investigation. In addition to Cong. William Moorhead, a rich “liberal” from Pittsburgh, he got the support of three Southern Democrats, Robert Stephens of Athens, Ga., Tom Gettys of Rock Hill, S.C,, Bevill of Jasper, Alabama. This was the most notable lineup of Dixiecrat-Republican power, for an important purpose, seen to them in this Congress, yet it was scarcely commented on by the daily press. The Ashley forces have now put into operation a set of rules governing the committee which will be a great drag on Patman. He has to give the full committee five-days notice before starting an inquiry; he must give it the same kind of notice before he prints any of his studies; he must hold a caucus on request by any Democratic member; and nothing that happens in the caucus is binding unless a majority of Democrats are there, etc. These are rules designed for delays and harassments; Ashley and the Dixiecrats and GOP members are expected to make full use of them. Also, the Ashleyites may get rid of some of Patman’s very loyal staff via one of the new rules. What does the new power alignment mean to the nation, other than the likelihood that the shadowy banking empire won’t be forced into the sunlight of disclosure? It may mean a great deal. Many of the housing bills must go through the Banking Committee’s housing subcommittee under Patman, as do many of the urban development and mass transit bills; other Patman subcommittees handle international banking, truth in lending, small business, and international trade bills. Interest rates, the whole monetary question of how the Federal s Reserve Board is pampered or held in check these things are partly determined within Patman’s committee. And now the GOP, the Dixiecrats, and the Democratic fatcats on the committee have the power of life or death over this kind of legislation. The Rural Electric Association, the Farmer’s Union, and labor in general put as much pressure on the committee as they could and the fact that Patman was not utterly destroyed by the new ruleswriting can probably be credited to their support. But there was no help from the White House, and no indignation from the daily press. ONLY FROM such humanitarian radicals as the great gadfly Izzy Stone was the roar heard. Writing in his weekly newsletter, he put the House’s present writhing in this perspective: “Three members of the House are being disciplined. The least justifiable case is getting the least attention. Adam Clayton Powell is in trouble for using his office to further his career as an international playboy; this has Negroes aroused, since they feel with justice that more serious peccaunreproved. John Bell Williams of Mississippi has lost his seniority; his crime was deserting his party for Barry Goldwater in 1964this has other Southerners aroused since Williams only did openly what most of them did privately. “The third case is that of Wright Patman, the one member from Texas who \(unlike that multi-millionaire from the powers as chairman of House Banking and Currency are being cut down by a bipartisan cabal. His crime is that he has been exposing the manipulations of the Big Money crowd, most recently in their tax-exempt foundations, and was about to investigate interlocking controls in Big Banking. A generation ago this would have created an uproar; today it passes unnoticed. That model of anemic liberalism, the Democratic Study Group, so active in the Powell and Williams cases, is silent in Patman’s.” Another way of putting it is that the liberal Democrats in this Congress, such as are left after the anti-Johnson balloting in 1966, are not using their greater ratio of strength, within the party, as a weapon to force support from the White House for beleaguered comrades such as Patman. Instead they have fallen into a nerveless, gutless disarray. Such pressures as are exerted in this Congress to defend the people’s position will come from the outsidefrom the REA, the Farmer’s Union, the Reutherites not from the flabby liberals within Congress. From them one seldom now hears criticism of the way the administration is killing the poverty program, or of the paranoiac way in which it pursues its Vietnam policies. And if they will not speak out on these obvious evils, they can hardly be expected to muster a complaint about the subtleties of the Patman fight.
You May Also Like
The Texas Rangers are tasked with investigating corruption and crimes by public officials. Those officials are rarely held accountable.