Huey Long Accuses My Grandfather of Eating His Breakfast – Part 1

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Earl Long learned his trade from his older brother, Huey Long, one of great masters of the art of politics in American history. Huey was also a power-mad schemer without scruples, a scoundrel, a crook, a demagogue of the worst sort and a liar on a colossal scale. While Governor of Louisiana (1928 to 1932) he ran roughshod over the laws and constitution of the state.

My grandfather was an investment banker in New York and had dealings with Huey Long when Long was Governor of Louisiana and later Senator from Louisiana. Although my grandfather was a successful banker in New York, he grew up in Arkansas so it would have been natural for someone to have introduced the two men.

My Grandfather was Charles S McCain and I am named for him since my name is Charles L McCain. (My novel is by ‘Charles McCain’ because ‘L’ would not fit on the cover of the book.) My mother was going to name me Thomas but Grandfather was very ill at the time and the family told him I was being named for him and they were going to call me “Charlie” as his friends called him (and as my friends call me).

There isn’t a lot of imagination in my family for names since my uncle is Charles S McCain, Jr. My late father was William S. McCain. My older brother is William S. McCain, Jr. My uncle’s father, as mentioned, was Charles S McCain, his father was William McCain — as was his father.

Senator Huey Long of Louisiana. To his left is O.K. Allen who was Long’s hand picked successor as Governer after Long’s term expired in 1932. Since he was elected to the US Senate in 1930, Huey served as both Governor of Louisiana and US Senator from Louisiana at the same time. O.K. Allen was such a flunky it was said that if a leaf blew in from outside and landed on his desk, he would sign it.

[Image courtesy of Tumblr.]

“Tell them I lied.” – A Politician Who Was An Honest Crook – Part 3

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The Hon. Earl K. Long, Governor of Louisiana.

But back to the issue of the tax on movie tickets. After winning the election and becoming Governor of the great State of Louisiana, Mr. Earl did not repeal the tax. The lobbyist called on Governor Long and as related in that classic of political literature, The Earl of Louisiana by A.J. Liebling, said to Mr. Earl:

“I told my clients that you said you wanted their support and that you wouldn’t block removal of the tax. What do I tell them now?”

Mr. Earl thought a moment and said, “Tell them I lied.”

[Source: The Earl of Louisiana by AJ Liebling. Image courtesy of AllPosters.com.]

“Tell them I lied.” – A Politician Who Was An Honest Crook – Part 2

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The Earl of Louisiana, Governor Earl Long, left, with Leander Perez, Boss of the Delta.

In reality, Perez was boss of Plaquemines Parish, the southern most parish, or county, in Louisiana with a population of 15,000 in 1960. A notorious racist and ruthless political boss, he broke with Long because Mr. Earl was too soft on the blacks. While often proclaiming he was one hundred percent for segregation, Earl rarely engaged in the constant race-baiting speeches expected of Southern politicians.

Writes AJ Liebling of a dinner with Mr. Earl during the gubernatorial campaign of 1960:

“Fellas like…Leander Perez and da rest of da White Citizens and Southern Gentlemen in dis state want to go back behind Lincoln,” he (Earl) said. “And between us, gentlemen, as we sit here among ourselves…we got to admit dat Lincoln was a fine man and dat he was right.”

[Source: The Earl of Louisiana by AJ Liebling. Image courtesy of Eunice Today.]

“Tell them I lied.” – A Politician Who Was An Honest Crook – Part 1

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Photo of Earl Long, undated, in his office at the state capitol.

Earl Long, a member of the famous political family who dominated politics in the great State of Louisiana for generations, was an honest crook. During one of his successful campaigns for Governor, he made a promise to a lobbyist for the movie theater industry to repeal a two percent tax on movie tickets.

This lobbyist subsequently worked like a Trojan to get Mr. Earl elected. The lobbyist assured theater owners that the repeal of the two percent tax was a done deal were Mr. Earl to become governor. Upon hearing this happy news, the group gave a handsome reward to the lobbyist — before the election and before the promised repeal of the tax. A foolish mistake as we shall see. This is Louisiana, often described as the northernmost of the Banana Republics.

[Image courtesy of A Boat Against The Current.]