I spent some time listening to Rachel Maddow’s ULTRA podcast last week. This production was very well done and worth taking the time to engage with. The use of the original voices from the Library of Congress lent ULTRA some much needed gravitas, I think. This is aural entertainment on a grand scale and endowers this slice of American history with some creative buzz. The narrator has a great voice and Rachel Maddow takes the listener on a journey back in time firmly held in her vocal embrace. The podcast production tinkles with all the bells and whistles of a radio soap from yesteryear, which was the desired intention, I am sure.
American History on the Radio with Rachel & ULTRA
As a historian myself, I probably could do with less leavening agents within the overall recipe, but I imagine the general public would eat this up. The content matter at the heart of ULTRA is serious stuff and well deserves greater notoriety within American society and the world.
US tax payers were paying the postage to send out millions of pro-NAZI letters and pamphlets to the population through the free mail accorded to members of congress and the senate. The revelations about the huge fascist movement within the US should ring alarm bells to concerned citizens of the world, even to this day.
Ultra-Right Wing Echoes in Trump’s America First
Why should we worry about something that happened 70 plus years ago? Well, because very few of these people were successfully charged and punished for their sedition and treason by the US Justice department.
Maddow puts a somewhat pragmatically positive spin on concluding events in summing up ULTRA to her audience – I don’t agree with her assessments. As an outsider looking in on the USA I am appalled at how often individuals of wealth and influence rarely pay the piper in America. The smokescreen of political interference is hoisted up over the DOJ again and again in the US to allow obviously guilty individuals to get off scot free. Money and power seems to be a guarantee of immunity from prosecution in the US.
Trump is the perfect modern illustration of this. A man who has lied and broken innumerable laws throughout his life walks unscathed through layers of seemingly impotent justice.
To the casual observer it is like watching a noisy circus where the American facility for rapid fire verbiage fills the room with hot air and not much else. There have been more political books recently written about Trump than anybody else by a long shot, as commentators and political insiders attempt to come to grips with the phenomenon of his presidency.
The American system, the great democracy so lauded by Americans themselves, is unable to deal with endemic issues of corruption fuelled by corporate lobbyists and other special interest groups. The manipulation of government by these agents of money and power has rendered the system ineffective for ordinary citizens and spawned a public hate of so-called elites by a sizable chunk of the populace. Despicable populist politicians like Trump have jumped on this bandwagon as false prophets promising relief. In reality, they suck on the teats of big business with the best of them whilst braying their false message to the disgruntled masses. Trump is in the pocket of Putin and his corporation has been funded by Russian money because without this he has basically been broke for many years.
The dumbing down of America continues, as capitalism cannibalises itself by eating its children. There are people fighting back, as we can see by Joe Biden’s presidency and some of the legislation his party has been able to get through the houses of government. The GOP is a sickness in America and represents the grandkids of the America First movement and those racist fascists. The rest of the world might be surprised by the flagrant antisemitism and prejudicial behaviour against African Americans on display in the USA but not large sections of the local population. This stuff has been bubbling away in the hearts and minds of many white Americans since the start.
The richest nation in the world rips off its own citizens on healthcare, higher education, and does not provide a worthy lifestyle for the vast majority of those who live there. What is the point of a government and economic system that does not provide the basic necessities of life to the many in a fair and equitable manner.
Australia cannot equitably provide affordable housing to its citizens now with property values and rents out of the reach of too many. What is the good of governments that cannot even house their own residents. This should be the basic pass mark for an elected democratic government. The same with healthcare and education.