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Horns and Claws


No-one but a "spokesman for greedy groups" could fail to support Senator Black's stand for legislative inquiries. For years, in spite of perfect law enforcement against crooks, grafters, gangsters, and passion murderers, the real, big-shot law-breakers, men who did things on a large scale, have escaped not only with their lives, liberties, and reputations, but with fat fortunes, offices in Wall Street, houses with swimming-pools and hot baths on Long Island, innumerable servants, debutante daughters, jewel-laden side-kicks, clubs with arm-chairs and whiskey, in fact, all the good things in life, as well. Without such fearless, quiet, hard-working defenders of the people as Senator Black, these men would continue to bribe innocent politicians, and to steal the saving of widows and orphans, and even he could not do much by way of exposing and attacking the dirty crooks without the power of the United States Government, and the procedure of a Senate investigation, behind him.

In spite of the obvious righteousness of his task, Senator Black finds the friends of his enemies and the enemies of all right-minded people not only numerous, but well-disciplined and clever. As soon as an inquiry is even mentioned, thousands of indignant telgrams pour into the Senate, and from then on, it is one obstruction after another that the culprits throw across the path of justice. Even polite questionnaires aren't answered, important records are hidden and destroyed, high powered corporation lawyers insist on "constitutional rights", which mean the rights of the rich to keep secret the secrets of their success. But the power and the procedure, in some cases, triumph; after weeks of Senatorial threats, plutocratic evasions, and painstaking research, the real troubles begin with the public hearing.

Here poor Senator Black finds himself confronted with what seem from his descriptions insuperable odds. He faces clever men, with the best lawyers money can get behind them; the Senate can only hire their lawyers at $300 a month, and their clever men don't, for some strange reason, go in for investigations. No wonder resort must sometimes be made to bludgeoning and badgering. Otherwise in a great many cases, the defendants go through an investigation, not only with reputations enhanced, and Senators looking silly, but also they submit to not the slightest inconvenience or unhappiness. If you lack a rapier, a club or stick would seem a necessary alternative.

For anyone who needed convincing that these plutocrats were not only unpleasant to look at and think about, but downright crooked as well, their maneuvers and squirmings under the Senate's investigation should be sufficient proof. Mr. Black, by his own admission, is only looking for facts, secrets, and publicity; the combination can only be harmful to those who have done wrong. If, as he proves in his article in February's Harpers, "the spokesmen of these greedy groups never rest in their opposition to exposure and publicity," it follows for sure that they are guilty, and deserve anything, if not more, the Senate can give them.

Wouldn't you know that Walter Lippmann would come out with his "high-times" and "needs-public-attentions" and "this-is-so-obvious-that-it ought-not-to-need-sayings" in direct, open opposition to Senator Black? I've not liked that young man much since his New Republic and Nation days.

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