05 October 2011

Humpday Happenings...
Another nice Indian Summer day in the Heartland - highs supposed to be in the MID-SEVENTIES, so it's a fine day to be most anywhere else (for me).
Before I forget - it's time for "WHO SAID THAT?"
Today's quote is:
"Not only strike while the iron is hot, but make it hot by striking"
(hint - he overthrew the English monarchy)
Now...moving on...
Amazing how (seemingly) so many people, such as those living around us, cannot grasp a basic concept such as rudimentary enjoyment of a decent life, and the things that comprise it. Too busy with their primate faces glued to an iPhone, or plugged into some iPod to notice...damn shame.
Many of them are too wrapped up in the enjoyment of their "poverty" to even bother with such things as living a good life, or being a good citizen.
As long as the entitlements keep rolling their way, all is well with the world (which usually consists of a couple of city blocks).
Don't have to do a damn thing, or lift a damn finger (except to text or dial another freeloader up so they can get together and compare "notes")...not at all. All they really HAVE to do is make sure they have a good LOUD voice, in case they don't get enough free stuff in life...so they can bitch a fit to everyone about their "plight".
And much of this state of affairs can be directly attributed to the fallout from our Prohibition era...believe it or not.
Who could have known that banning alcohol would have as many and such far reaching effects decades later, but it has.
*** Last evening was the final episode of PROHIBITION: A NATION OF HYPOCRITES, and it was every bit as good as the first two installments.
It picked up the story about 6-7 years into prohibition, and showed how many folks were not only getting as much booze than before (in many cases, even more), but how the general public was becoming less enamored with the whole deal.
The "drys" were still staunchly defending the alcohol ban, but the "wets" were gaining more traction the longer the ban went on.
Crime bosses ran the larger cities, with Capone basically OWNING all of Chicago - everything from trucking, to poultry distribution, to prostitution. Almost anything that could be taken over, pretty much was.
One interesting thing was that the DAIRY businesses were left untouched, and Capone regretted that saying that the "markup" for a quart of milk was greater than that for a quart of hooch...now THAT was a real racket.
Politicians were easily bought, as were the local constabulary, and no matter how many rival gangsters were gunned down, Capone was never indicted and never arrested (he was in his other house in Palm Beach, Florida - he couldn't have done that).
The ORIGINAL "Teflon-Don", as it were...nothing seemed to stick.
This reached it's zenith in a small garage on the 14th of February, 1929, when the alleged target of a Capone "hit", Bugs Moran was supposed to meet seven of his "soldiers" there for a meeting to discuss territorial disputes erupting from the beer wars.
Four men met with Moran's people, two dressed as policemen, and proceeded to gun the seven down with shotguns and Tommy guns.
Moran was late for the meeting, as he was getting a haircut.
Citizens became understandably outraged.
But Capone was a folk hero to so many...giving to charity, playing Santa to impoverished kids in the neighborhoods, and even opening up SOUP KITCHENS after the Crash of 1929 on Wall St, which began the Great Depression in America.
Trying to bust him for anything "illegal" was going to be a real chore.
Herbert Hoover took the reigns of power from outgoing president Calvin Coolidge, and his Treasury Secretary, Andrew Mellon was tasked with finding a way to take down Capone, using a two-prong approach - tax evasion and the Volstead Act.
It's here that Burns film neglects one person of note: Eliot Ness.
Ness joined the Treasury Department in 1927, and was appointed to head the Chicago office under Volstead, tracking Capone's shipments, supply routes, and illegal breweries.
Initially, Ness selected FIFTY team members, then reduced the number to 15 and finally ELEVEN hand-picked men from the prohibition agency.
Regarded as never being one to accept bribes, his team became known as "The Untouchables".
The main source of information for the raids Ness orchestrated came from a new technology - the WIRE TAP.
The efforts of Ness's team had a large impact on Capone's operation, but had little to do with the the Treasury department's conviction of Capone (for tax evasion), which came about by 1931. Capone was sentenced to 11 years in prison on 22 counts of tax evasion and 5,000 violations of Volstead.
Meanwhile, the people kept on drinking, as if Capone was still out on the streets...the "business" kept on going.
People and politicians alike grew weary, and were wanting to repeal the 18th Amendment, but some said that was all but impossible - no one had EVER repealed ANY amendment of the Constitution.
Time would prove them wrong.
Mabel Willebrandt, the staunch defender of Volstead did not become Attorney General under Hoover's administration (as hoped), so she resigned for a private practice, later as counsel to the Screen Actors Guild and California wine growers.
In her place came Pauline Sabin, a upper-class woman who founded the WONPR (women's organization for national prohibition reform). And she selected female followers from EVERY class of citizenry.
She had become disenchanted with prohibition, as were so many others, and she fought long and hard for reform to the Volstead Act.
When the stock market crashed, that only added insult to injury for Hoover. Poverty was now the big issue, as was jobs, because not only were the distilleries and breweries closed, damn near everything else was, too.
America saw 25% unemployment rates...unheard of even by today's standards.
It was little wonder that FDR won the next election handily enough.
His platform included "amending" Volstead to include beer and wine (as was originally wanted by many) and consumption in the HOME would not be a crime any longer.
It was not long before a bill was passed in congress to repeal the 18th Amendment, and it took less than a year for the states to ratify it, thereby creating the 21st Amendment - the end to prohibition.

*** But, it's far from the end of the story...
So, what did America LEARN from all of this?
--It learned how to circumvent a federal law, and it learned that ANY law is only as good as the enforcement behind it.
--America became more of a hedonistic society (at least in the major cities), and regard for law-enforcement in general sank to new lows.
Blame that on the ease at which so many could be bribed to "look the other way".
--America looked at politicians in a whole new light as well, thanks to women like Pauline Sabin, who saw hypocrisy walking hand-in-hand with politics.
--We ushered in the JAZZ age, and with it, a new sense of life moving at a quicker step than in times past.
--We learned that regular citizens can become criminals. And we learned that trying to control behavior through federal laws doesn't work as well as intended, no matter how morally-correct it might be.
--We saw huge gains for WOMEN at this time (and rightly so)...thanks all to the temperance movement.
--We also found out that a woman's place was not necessarily IN the home, especially if they were single.
Here's a link that sums it all up really well:
We did learn a lot, but not all of it was good, or even FOR our own good.
Today, we see similar aspects to prohibition, just not as "outright" as back then. We have "regulations" instead...and some of those infringe upon our Constitutional rights a bit more than we would prefer.
One commenter in last night's episode mentioned that it was HARDER today to get a drink as opposed to when prohibition was in swing (or even BEFORE prohibition). Alcohol is so regulated and taxed, that the prices are getting ever higher, while consumption remains at record levels.
Alcohol is being used by younger people (into the pre-teen years now), and certainly ALCOHOLISM is still a bane in our society, and shows no signs of abating anytime soon.
Alcohol-related deaths either by hand (including domestic abuse) or by vehicle continue to plague us yearly, and yet there are those that would loosen the restraints of OTHER mood-altering items, because we should all be free enough to not have government dictate how we should run OUR lives.
With prohibition came disregard for the law and those charged with upholding it, and we see the results today.
Many of us are fine with being able to "police ourselves", and practice MODERATION in any facet of our lives...others, not so much.
Any laws and regulations should address THOSE people, and not paint everyone with a broad brush in that matter.
But, we can't have it that way for some reason.
The once noble experiment was a flop...plain and simple.
What all of us should take away from it, is a better sense of WHO WE ARE.
We have the potential to achieve much more than we currently are doing, but the government has to understand that whenever they intrude into our lives, they risk having the people turn against them.
In today's world, the propensity for violence is too easily secured, and too readily available.
We should all be wary of that, lest we travel down a path that parallels that of the prohibition era.
The series made me really think about a lot of things, as it should.
This nation finds itself balancing on a knife's edge, and one slip can be costlier than we might imagine.
We need to be strong, and vigilant, and above all...knowledgeable.
Be well, make a difference to someone, and...
Stay safe out there, America.


CWMartin said...

With that clue, I'll guess Cromwell. and I thought you might like this- I got an e-mail from my friend whose brother was on the jury for the asshat who shot his pregnant wife in front of their son. Enlightening stuff.

"My brother Phillip's jury duty ended today. I called when we saw it on the evening news here. (See article below) He was very disturbed and upset. He said that he has a lot of images and things in his head that he wished he had never seen and he hopes that he can someday forget. He also said that CSI is cleaned up and pretty compared to the real autopsy photos.

The article didn’t mention that she was 12 weeks pregnant. They had to show those photos too to prove that he was also guilty of killing the baby. The guy was so arrogant and “so what” with the verdict that Phillip said that he’d liked to have” jumped the rail and beat the @#%* out of the guy”.

I won’t try to write out everything that he said but it was interesting. Please pray for the little boy and Phillip. They played the 911 and in the back round you could hear the little voice saying “mommy, mommy…” Its really haunting Phillip.

This man’s family has had the little boy for the past two years and now his maternal grandparents want him. It will probably become a custody battle as if the poor thing hasn’t suffered enough.

Phillip said that he hopes that “They fry the bastard”. They said that the most he can get would be 35-65 years. Sentencing won’t be until December."

Bob G. said...

Well, I'm glad I wasn't the only person that paid attention in my World History class...LOL.

What Philip witnessed is another part of jury duty that really isn't for everyone...gruesome scenes and photos are all part of the "process", and they can have as lasting an effect as if you were actually THERE.

I never brought up that aspect (here), as I didn't want to turn anyone off, or upset them.

And I've seen my share of scenes both real and in pictures (still never having served on a jury).

I'll keep your brother in my thoughts and hope he can put this behind him.

As for the perp?
Somehow offing the SOB just doesn't seem like adequate compensation for anyone involved.
Justice sure isn't what it used to (or should) be these days.

Hey, thanks for sharing the story and for taking time to drop on by today.

God bless & stay safe up there.

Slamdunk said...

Playing your game honestly, I don't know.

I am surprised that Burns neglected to include Ness and his bunch more in the series. That seems like a no brainer considering their important role.

Bob G. said...

Burns should have at LEAST "mentionmed" Ness and the way his team was assembled, for I'm sure OTHER such teams were created in the OTHER hotbeds of crime in the other major cities...

Chicago WAS the biggest (and worst), no doubt, but crime familes and gangs were found elsewhere.

Here's the WIKI on Ness:

I'm sure his promotion to CHIEF of the Chicago office MEANT SOMETHING, and really needed to be included.

His life after prohibition was somehwat checkered with both UPS and DOWNS.

He's an interesting individual, that's for sure, if not as "flashy" as depicted on screen.

Hey, thanks for stopping on by today and commenting.
Much appreciated.

Stay safe out there.