Steele's Rise: 1932-1940
Election and First Term
In 1932, the country was still suffering the affects of the Great Depression, and had grown disenchanted with incumbent Republican President Herbert Hoover. The Democratic Party saw its opportunity, with Steele and New York governor Franklin D. Roosevelt became the front runners for the party's presidential nomination. Steele touted his Four Year Plan, which included collectivizing farms, updating the country's power grid, and nationalizing the banks. Roosevelt pledged his New Deal plan.
When the Convention vote started to turn Roosevelt's way, Steele arranged to have Roosevelt burned alive at Executive Mansion in Albany. With his primary opponent gone, Steele became the party's presidential nominee. His running mate was John Nance Garner, with whom Steele had reached an early arrangement. Through his vigorous campaigning, populist appeal and his relatively concrete Four Year Plan, Steele handily defeated Herbert Hoover.
From his inauguration, Steele put his Four Year Plan into action. While he wasn't a particularly dynamic speaker, he did speak with confidence. During his inaugural address as president on March 4, 1933, he emphasized his humble beginnings, his status as a self-made man, and promised that the American people would have jobs in his Four Year Plan. Moreover, he promised that he would be "rough and harsh" toward those who were "harming" the United States. He concluded with one last populist promise to nationalize the country's banks, which was met with thunderous applause.
Steele didn't waste time, calling a special session of Congress, and introduced legislation that nationalized the banks. When he was met with opposition from conservative members of Congress, Steele reached out to young-and-coming Bureau of Investigation chief J. Edgar Hoover to investigate opponents of the nationalization scheme. Hoover "found out" that Senator Carter Glass, the leader of the opposition, had a secret love child with his family's Negro maid in his youth. When Steele shared this information with Glass, Glass caved and changed his vote. Soon enough, the remaining opponents fell in line.
With the nationalization complete, Steele continued proposing legislation to regulate the country's financial institutions and labor unions. Moreover, after his willingness to blackmail his opponents during the nationalization fight, the bills Steele proposed sailed through Congress. He also instituted make-work projects and proposed community farms in the Midwest. While some critics suggested Steele's community farms were identical to the farms in the Soviet Union, Steele responded by telling the people: "If you want to see food on the table and men proud of what they do, let your Senators and Representatives know about it." The farm bill passed. The various comparisons of Steele's policies to the Soviet Union's were ironic, as Steele was quite vocal in his hatred for Soviet dictator Leon Trotsky. Indeed, the US did not recognize the Soviet government until the outbreak of World War II.
In mid-1933, Steele proposed legislation for electrifying the Tennessee Valley, the last piece of legislation in the special session. He went on radio to ask the American people tell their Senators and Representatives to support the bill. The Administration also took the liberty of composing letters, claiming to be from citizens, and sending them to Congress.
However, the federal judiciary began overturning the legislation on appeal, and soon, most of the Four Year Plan was before the Supreme Court, which systematically began ruling the legislation unconstitutional. In response, Steele ordered J. Edgar Hoover to investigate the court. Then Steele gave a radio speech in which he denounced the Supreme Court as nine old men who were not elected, and who were actively wrecking the country. Steele implied the Court's actions were deliberate, and promised that there would be an investigation.
Hoover discovered "evidence" that four justices - James McReynolds, Pierce Butler, Willis Van Devanter, and George Sutherland - who were also the most consistent in ruling the Four Year Plan unconstitutional - were in fact colluding with foreign powers against the United States. In February 1934, Hoover led a group of agents to very publicly arrest the Supreme Court Four for treason while they were in the middle of deliberations.
Steele then took the additional step of suspending the writ of habeas corpus, much to the astonishment and horror of many. Steele argued that, while the country was not in a rebellion or at war with another country, it was at war with hunger, want, and poverty.
In September 1934, the Supreme Court Four were tried by a military tribunal. The Four confessed to colluding with Nazi Germany, and were sentenced to death by the tribunal. Furthermore, the Four identified Louisiana Senator Huey Long and radio personality Father Coughlin as being part of their "conspiracy". While their attorneys did appeal to the remaining Supreme Court and Steele himself, Steele refused to grant clemency, and the Four were promptly executed.
Coughlin was taken into custody, but Long immediately returned to Baton Rouge ahead of an arrest, and began railing against Steele's new "War of Northern Aggression". Long's hold on the state was such that even Federal officers kowtowed to him. Steele's calm response was that the laws of the country had to be obeyed, and that Long should taken into custody. The issue was rendered moot when Long was shot through the head by a sniper while speaking in front of City Hall while giving a speech in Alexandria. His bodyguards responded in a confused manner, with several opening fire into the crowd, killing an additional twenty people. Long's assassin was never caught.
Coughlin was placed before a tribunal. Like the Four, Coughlin confessed, and was sentenced to death. When his lawyers appealed to Steele for clemency, Steele declined, quoting Abraham Lincoln: "Must I shoot a simple-minded deserter, while I must not touch a hair of a wily agitator who induces him to desert?" Coughlin was executed a few days later.
In 1935, Steele introduced legislation that would allow the Federal government to draft prisoners out of local, state, and federal detention facilities and put them to work building infrastructure in the Midwest and Rocky Mountains regions. It cleared the House of Representatives quickly and quietly before anyone took notice.  Despite some criticism from the press, the bill passed the Senate the following week, and Steele signed it into law. J. Edgar Hoover was at Steele's right elbow.
Steele's Second Term and the Coming War
In March 1936, German dictator Adolf Hitler remilitarized the Rhineland. Steele, who hated Hitler about as much as he hated Leon Trotsky, albeit for different reasons, condemned Hitler's move. He also condemned France's failure to respond, and stated (after the fact) that the US would have supported France in any way possible short of war. Steele and Hitler shared a series of retorts and insults that meant little given geography.
Steele's public speeches stood in stark contrast to the Republican Party, which was completely silent about international affairs in the months before the 1936 election. At their convention, they nominated Kansas Governor Alf Landon, with Frank Knox as his running mate..
Landon initially tried to present himself as the true populist in the race, reminding the country that Kansas had been home to the first Populists. However, that appeal was quickly drowned out when reporter Charlie Sullivan used the definition of the word "populist" Ambrose Bierce created in The Devil's Dictionary: "A fossil patriot of the early agricultural period, found in the old red soapstone underlying Kansas; characterized by an uncommon spread of ear, which some naturalists contend gave him the power of flight, though Professors Morse and Whitney, pursuing independent lines of thought, have ingeniously pointed out that had he possessed it he would have gone elsewhere. In the picturesque speech of his period, some fragments of which have come down to us, he was known as 'The Matter with Kansas.'"
In short order, Landon was dubbed "the Matter with Kansas" by the Steele campaign. Landon unsuccessfully tried to turn the name around, claiming that if he were the Matter with Kansas, Steele was the matter with the whole country. Steele won in a landslide, carrying 46 out of the 48 states, with only Maine and Vermont going to Landon.
At his second inauguration (during a cold, wet rain), Steele announced the Second Four Year Plan, promising to build on the foundation of the first, and promising neither Reds nor Fascists would derail the country. After the speech, he met with Charlie Sullivan, and thanked him for the "Matter with Kansas" line. He also reminded Sullivan how critical of Steele his brother Mike remained. Still, he continued to notice Charlie.
In March, 1937, Steele and his staff traveled to Chattanooga to celebrate the completion of a dam in the Tennessee Valley. He was met with large crowds, although one person yelled out "Who killed Huey Long?" The speech was held at the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Auditorium. Before he got very far into his speech, a soldier named Roland Laurence South jumped to his feet and fired two shots at Steele before the Secret Service men shot him dead. One shot did hit Steele in chest, but only after it had struck the lectern Steele was standing behind and lost its momentum, causing only a superficial wound and cracked rib.
Steele appointed J. Edgar Hoover to head the new Government Bureau of Investigation, and charged him with investigating the U.S. Army. In a radio speech announcing the creation of the GBI under director J. Edgar Hoover, Steele also declared that there were wreckers in all levels of society, including in the press.
In the summer of 1937, J. Edgar Hoover announced the arrest of several officers in the Army and Navy, including generals and admirals for conspiring with "foreign powers" in Roland South's efforts to assassinate Steele. As with the Supreme Court Four, the arrested officers faced military tribunals and were executed. This purge gave Steele the opportunity to cultivate officers loyal to him. The arrests were by no means restricted to the military; civilians were also swept up as "wreckers" and taken before an administrative judge, who rubber stamped their sentence to a labor camp.
As the GBI rounded up wreckers as home, storm clouds were gathering around the world. Japan had begun a war in China in 1937. The Spanish Civil War had become a proxy war between Adolf Hitler and Leon Trotsky.
The year 1938 proved to be momentous. In March, Hitler ordered the annexation of Austria to Germany, and immediately began making claims on the Sudetenland of Czechoslovakia. Despite loud support from Steele and Trotsky (both of whom feared what Hitler might do unchecked), France and Britain, rather than fight Hitler, brokered a deal in which the Sudetenland was granted to Germany in September 1938.
In response, Steele decided to issue a statement, but found his writers not up to the task. He summoned Charlie Sullivan to the White House and asked him to help. After fifteen minutes of work, Sullivan produced a draft that greatly pleased Steele. In fact, Steele was so pleased he offered Charlie a job as a speechwriter on the spot, which Sullivan accepted. Six months into the job, Steele tasked Sullivan and his other aides with writing a speech about Germany's annexation of the Bohemia and Moravia and creation of the independent Republic of Slovakia, and how this now positioned Germany to move on Poland.
Hitler now turned his attention to the Polish Corridor. Leon Trotsky, realizing that France and Britain could not be counted on, sent his foreign commissar, Maxim Litvinov to Berlin to negotiate a non-aggression pact with Litvinov's German counter-part, Joachim von Ribbentrop. (Some found it ironic that the Jewish Trotsky had sent the Jewish Litvinov into the "world's capital of anti-Semitism.")
Steele and his administration realized quickly that the U.S. was too far away to influence anything beyond publicly pleading with Britain and France to stand firm against Germany, while condemning both Germany and the Soviet Union, to no avail.
War in Europe and Steele's Third Term
Germany invaded Poland a week later, setting off World War II. The Soviet Union attacked Poland from the east a few weeks after that. Upon Poland's capitulation, Hitler and Trotsky met at the new frontier.
Steele didn't enter the war, instead giving what came to be called the "Plague on Both Your Houses" speech, which promised that the U.S. would not enter into Europe's "latest stupid war".
Despite Steele's pledges of neutrality, he grew alarmed by Hitler's substantial successes from September, 1939 through May, 1940. When Germany defeated and occupied France, and forced British troops off the Continent, Steele realized that now only Britain stood between the U.S. and Germany in the Atlantic. He decided to supply Britain with arms and money, and pushed legislation through Congress. The American people accepted this plan, although they were still wary of entering the war directly. Winston Churchill, who'd become prime minister earlier in the year, responded to the aid by saying "If the Devil opposed Adolf Hitler, I should endeavor to give him a good notice in the House of Commons. Thus I thank Joe Steele." Steele remembered the back-handed compliment.
Against this backdrop, Steele decided to run for an unprecedented third term in 1940. Despite Steele's control over the country, the GOP still nominated a candidate, Wendell Willkie in Philadelphia in 1940. Steele's nomination for an unprecedented third term took place three weeks later in Chicago, without conflict.
Willkie was energetic in his campaigning, making speeches across the country. Conversely, Steele didn't campaign as much, leaving his machine to do most of the heavy lifting. He campaigned on a promise that he would not send Americans to die in any foreign wars. In the six weeks leading up to the election, Steele frequently met with J. Edgar Hoover, who was digging up information to help Steele insure victory.
Steele won even more handily than he had in 1936, which seemed rather inconsistent with how vigorously Willkie had actually campaigned. When Willkie did gave his concession speech on election night, he did acknowledge certain irregularities in the vote in some areas, but also acknowledged that they wouldn't change the result. He wished Steele luck.
Steele and his cronies were amused by the "irregularities"; while none of them said it out loud, the administration had engaged in quite a bit more to secure the election than the irregularities suggested. Steele all but confessed it when he turned to J. Edgar Hoover and asked Hoover if he knew what "Boss" William Tweed said about votes. Steele supplied the answer: "As long as I count the votes, what are you going to do about it?" Then he pointed at himself and said. "And I damn well do!"
Steele's Third Term and America's Aid to the Allies
As Steele's third term began, the war in Europe seemed to stabilize, with Germany invading North Africa, Yugoslavia and Greece in order to save Italy's floundering efforts. Japan continued to advance in China, and were making advances into Indochina with Vichy France's tacit approval.
This move concerned both Churchill and Steele, as both the UK and US had interests in the region, and Indochina would make a viable launching pad for Japan to attack those interests. In response, Steele decided to stop selling Japan scrap and oil, and to freeze Japanese assets in the U.S. While he commissioned Charlie Sullivan to write a speech designed to mollify the Japanese government, Steele's actions instead increased the tension between the two countries.
Five days after Steele made this decision, Germany attacked the Soviet Union. Steele immediately called a conference of several generals, during which General George Marshall predicted the Russians would last six weeks. While Marshall argued a German victory would be a deadly danger to the whole world, Steele delighted in the idea of "dead Germans floating down the river, each one on a raft of three dead Russians." However, the Soviets were still in the war six weeks later, confounding expectations.
As Russia was fighting for its life, Steele met with Winston Churchill for the first time in Portland, Maine. Churchill had wanted to meet in Canada or Newfoundland, but as Churchill was the one with hat in hand, Steele demanded the Portland meeting. The two actually met aboard a Royal Navy destroyer off the coast. Churchill's first request was that the U.S. extend aid to Trotsky as it had with the U.K. Steele initially refused Churchill's request, but as Churchill grew bolder, reminding Steele that the U.S. was as much a prison state as Trotsky's Soviet Union. He also argued that compared with Hitler, Trotsky was reasonable. Without committing (the U.S. still hadn't recognized the Soviet Union), Steele and his aides returned to their ship after extending a dinner invitation to Churchill. That evening, after some cagey behavior, Steele acknowledged that he'd start sending aid to Trotsky. Churchill was delighted.
While the German advance did see the capture of Kiev and Smolensk, the fall rains reduced Russian roads to mud, effectively halting the advance. Japan was able to completely occupy Indochina, enraging Churchill and Steele. After Steele insulted Japan publicly, the Japanese government sent Foreign Minister Saburō Kurusu to Washington to hammer out a deal.
Kurusu demanded the U.S. unfreeze Japan's assets and to begin selling scrap and oil again. However, he refused to accept Steele's demand for Japan to withdraw from China, claiming Japan was entitled to an empire. Privately, Steele and his cronies dismissed the threats, based on estimates that without the oil and scrap, Japan would grind to a halt within the next year. This assessment was filtered through the prism of racism, and everyone in the administration was convinced that Kurusu would soon come back on bent knee.
U.S. at War: 1941-1946
America's Entry into the War
Instead, on December 7, 1941, Japanese forces attacked the American naval base at Pearl Harbor and the Philippines.. Steele ordered a Cabinet meeting, and began preparing a speech asking Congress to declare war on Japan. He also ordered an investigation into Admiral Husband Kimmel and General Walter Short, the military leaders in charge of Pearl Harbor. The next day, Steele gave his speech, asking for the declaration of war. In his speech, Steele called on the entire population of the U.S. to rally against the Japanese threat. He also announced the creation of a National Committee for Defense. Despite this stirring speech, the vote for war was not unanimous: two Representatives and one Senator voted against it.
After the speech, word came that Japanese planes had destroyed U.S. planes on the airfield outside Manila, this despite the fact that the fighting had already been on for a day. Steele now also turned his attention to General Douglas MacArthur's actions. On December 11, 1941, Germany declared war on the U.S. On December 14, 1941, Steele had Kimmel and Short put on trial. They were convicted of dereliction of duty. Steele denied their appeal, and they were executed in short order.
The Philippines continued to fall apart. General MacArthur followed doctrine and had his garrison and Filipino forces retreat to the Bataan Peninsula to deny the Japanese the use of the Manila harbor. Unfortunately, the attack on Pearl Harbor damaged and sank too many U.S. ships preventing MacArthur's forces being relieved which was also part of the planning.
Steele was displeased with MacArthur and tried to get him to return to the U.S. ostensibly to be given a new command. MacArthur refused, claiming he wished to face the same fate as his soldiers. Eventually Steele had General George Marshall order MacArthur to return. MacArthur did so via a PT boat pick-up and then a B-17 to Honolulu. From there he flew to San Diego and then traveled by train to Washington, DC. He was arrested at the train station by Captain Lawrence Livermore, faced a military tribunal and convicted of negligence and incompetence and then executed. Unlike others, MacArthur didn't appeal his sentence. The day after the execution, Steele issued a public statement explaining his decision.
Throughout 1942, the U.S. and its allies made some important advances on several fronts although not without cost. Admiral Raymond A. Spruance defeated the Japanese fleet at Midway. The Soviets met German forces at Trotskygrad, held them, and were able to cut those forces off in the fall, prompting Steele to commend the Soviets on striking the Nazis a heavy blow. A few days later, U.S. General Omar Bradley led landing of US and British troops in North Africa, driving the German forces out of Egypt through Libya. While the plan had called for a complete capture of German troops, the Afrika Korps were able to fall back to Tunisia.
Things continued to go better for the Allies into 1943. The remaining German troops in Trotskygrad surrendered. However, the German military decided to let the Soviet advance exceed its supply line, and launched a counter-attack, again putting the Soviets on the defensive. In the Pacific, the Americans under Dwight Eisenhower and Chester Nimitz took the Solomon Island and pushed into New Guinea. Privately, Steele and his administration was pleased with the course of the war.
As Allied victory seemed more likely, Steele agreed to attend a conference with Winston Churchill and Leon Trotsky in Basra, Iraq. Steele's entourage included Scriabin, Mikoian, Kagan, J. Edgar Hoover, George Marshall, and Charlie Sullivan. This marked the first time Steele and Trotsky met in person. Their interactions were cordial but frosty. They shook hands, and Steele was quite public in praising the sacrifices of the Red Army. During the conference, all parties consumed substantial amounts of alcohol.
The public statement coming out of the conference declared independence for the captured countries of Europe and the Far East and punishment for the German and Japanese leaders causing the war. It also promised the creation of an international organization strong enough to make a lasting peace. Private agreements were also reached where the Soviet Army would help the U.S. invade Japan when it became feasible. Trotsky also had wanted hegemony over all of Eastern Europe and the Balkans but Churchill convinced him to yield influence over Greece to Britain.
Steele's Fourth Term and the End of the War
In 1944, the end of the war was in sight. Omar Bradley oversaw the successful invasion of Normandy, thereby opening the long anticipated second front in Europe. Paris fell to the Allies quickly thereafter. The Soviets' drive prompted Finland and Bulgaria to exit the war, and Romania to change sides. While Germany was able to overrun Slovakia and Hungary, and to hold a line in Italy, the writing was on the wall. At home, the economy was in great shape, with people now earning more than they had before Steele took office in 1933. Steele turned his attention to gaining a fourth term, running against GOP candidate Thomas Dewey. While Dewey campaigned hard, it was difficult to campaign substantively against Steele's successes. Moreover, Steele's apparatus was difficult to contend with. Steele trounced Dewey.
A few months into Steele's fourth term, the war in Europe was over. With two armies bearing down from either direction, Hitler committed suicide in April, 1945. Germany surrendered a few days later. They attempted to surrender to the Americans and British only, but Steele ordered Bradley to tell them they would do it the Allies' way. Steele celebrated the victory in a radio broadcast, but reminded the American people that Japan was still fighting. Steele promised to rain destruction on Japan until it surrendered (Tokyo had been firebombed extensively the month before). In the meantime, U.S. forces continued its island hopping campaign, pushing Japanese forces closer and closer towards the Home Islands. This included a bloody fight for the island of Okinawa, which finally fell in mid-1945.
In November 1945, the U.S. launched Operation: Olympic, the invasion of Kyushu. Concurrently, the Soviet Union finally went to war with Japan, attacking and pushing Japanese forces out of the Asian mainland (taking the time to establish a puppet government in Korea), and invading Hokkaido, the northernmost Home Island.
Despite this pincer attack and months of bloody fighting, Japan's government refused to yield. In March 1946, Operation: Coronet began: the U.S. attacked Shikoku and Honshu from the south, and the USSR attacked Honshu from the north. While Prime Minister General Hideki Tojo died leading Japanese forces trying to drive the Americans off, his death did not lead to a Japanese surrender. Instead, the Japanese, both military and civilian, fought as hard as they had on Kyushu.
Just prior to Coronet, Steele was informed by Captain Hyman Rickover of the U.S. Navy about certain German programs involving the use of uranium as an explosive weapon. Steele summoned Albert Einstein to the White House. Among those present for the meeting were Mikoian, Scribian, and Kagan, J. Edgar Hoover, Rickover, and Charlie Sullivan (who knew little about uranium, but turned out to know more than all of Steele's confidantes, save Mikoian). When Steele asked about the German program, Einstein admitted that he'd learned of early experiments in 1938 or 1939. When Steele asked Einstein why he'd done nothing, Einstein calmly responded that he was afraid Steele would build the bomb and use it.
Steele proclaimed Einstein the "king of the wreckers", and ordered Hoover to immediately place Einstein under arrest. Once Einstein was gone, Steele asked Rickover if he could complete the project. Rickover promised to do his best. Steele also gave Rickover access to a number of people who'd already been placed in custody as wreckers. Steele cautioned that if any of these people did anymore wrecking, they would be eliminated.
U.S. as Superpower and its Rivalry with the Soviet Union: 1946-1953
Immediately, Steele and Trotsky began establishing new governments in their respective parts of occupied Japan. The Soviets held Hokkaido and northern Honshu, and established the Japanese People's Republic under Fedor Tolbukhin with some Japanese Reds acting as his puppets. Similarly, the U.S. established the Constitutional Monarchy of Japan in southern Honshu, Kyushu, and Shikoku. Hirohito's son, Akihito, who was only 12, became the new emperor, although it was General Eisenhower who actually ran the country.
In the late summer of 1946, Steele met Trotsky one last time in Wakamatsu. This conference was purely between Steele and Trotsky; Churchill's successor, Clement Attlee, was not invited. Relations between Steele and Trotsky were no less frosty than they had been at Basra. Nonetheless, each side recognized the new Japanese states created, with a three-mile demilitarized zone along the Agano River. Trotsky was actually more easy going here than in Basra; he'd seen the war in Europe as one of survival. The war against Japan had simply been "a war". Towards the end of the conference, Steele presented Mike Sullivan with a Bronze Star for correctly identifying Hirohito. Steele astonished Mike (and Charlie, who'd come as part of Steele's entourage) by remembering Mike. When Steele was out of earshot, both brothers were darkly amused that the world was effectively divided between Steele and Trotsky.
While the war was over, at home Steele's administration grew alarmed at the spread of Trotsky's influence in Eastern Europe and Asia, as well as the Red movements in France and Italy. The GBI now turned its attention to finding Reds in the U.S., as well as his bid for a fifth term. In 1947, Steele gave the "Red Curtain Speech" (written primarily by Charlie Sullivan), condemning the USSR's sweeping hold on large parts of the world. The GBI made several arrests in all levels of the Federal government, and Attorney General Wyszynski got convictions, as did a young Assistant AG from California who'd gained Joe Steele's favor.
In June 1948, North Japanese forces invaded South Japan in a surprise attack, launching the Japanese War. From Steele's perspective, the war came at the worst time: the GOP had just nominated Harold Stassen as their candidate for the 1948 election, a comparative unknown from Minnesota. Previously, Steele had assumed he'd defeat Stassen in a walk, but now the war required Steele to actually campaign while overseeing a war.
The course of the war went badly at first. Despite warning signs, the attack was a complete surprise, and the South Japanese Constitutional Guard showed little interest in fighting back. The U.S. attempted to bomb North Japanese cities with B-29s, a strategy used against the Empire of Japan during World War II. However, the air defenses of the North had been re-built with Soviet help and new, jet Gurevich 9s proved much more deadly then older propeller fighters. (It was an open secret that the Gu-9s were often piloted by Russians.) As such, daylight raids were attempted for only a few days but losses were unacceptable so only occasional night raids were continued.
U.S. forces were finally able to regroup and halt the North's advance at Utsunomiya. With this military victory, Steele concentrated on winning the election. While a few states went to Stassen (including those that contained resettled wreckers), Steele carried the majority of the electoral vote and won his fifth term.
With the North's advance stalled, the U.S. and South Japanese, over the course of the next year with bloody and hard fighting, forced the invaders back to Sendai, well north of the border.. By the summer of 1949, Hyman Rickover's group had successfully tested an atomic bomb. The test, which took place in New Mexico, was covered up and officially called a munitions dump explosion. On the night of August 6, 1949, a flight of B-29s dropped an atomic bomb on Sendai, destroying it and the North Japanese forces concentrating there.
Steele spoke the next day, announcing the deployment of the atomic bomb, describing its power, and calling on Trotsky to end the Japanese War, concluding his speech by saying "Enough is enough." Trotsky's response came on August 9, 1949, when a Soviet atom bomb destroyed the South Japanese city of Nagano. The Japanese War ended with the status quo antebellum restored.
Red Scare at Home at Steele's Death
Two months later, in November, 1949, in China, Mao Tse-Tung and his Reds pushed the government of Chiang Kai-Shek off of the Chinese mainland. The U.S. had backed Chiang, and refused to recognize Mao. For a time, Joe Steele had considered using atomic bombs to support Chiang, as they'd effectively ended the Japanese War. However, during a meeting in October, the Soviet ambassador to the U.S., Andrei Gromyko, suggested that any U.S. atomic attack in China might be met with a Soviet atomic attack in Europe. After further consultation with Stas Mikoian and George Marshall, Steele opted not to use the bomb. While Steele was not pleased to see China fall, he was more than happy to find Reds in the U.S. to take the blame, and the arrests and prosecutions of alleged Reds accelerated, this time, scooping up scholars of Chinese history, literature and culture. In the meantime, Steele was aging, and noticeably slowing down, but he was getting ready for another run at the presidency.
In late 1950, Steele woke up in the night with a terrible headache, and after some prompting from his wife, Betty, received late night attention from his personal physician, Tadeusz Pietruszka. The incident was kept quiet, and Steele seemed to have no lasting issues.
The remainder of 1950 and 1951 were uneventful. Steele lost interest in Red hunting for a time, and turned his attention to the 1952 election. The Republicans nominated Senator Robert Taft. They'd attempted to draft either Omar Bradley or Dwight Eisenhower, but Steele privately dissuaded both entering the race. Steele was renominated himself three weeks later, on a platform of "Twenty Years of Progress." An isolationist, Taft called for bringing U.S. troops back from Europe and South Japan, arguing for arming those areas instead. Steele forcefully argued that the U.S. was a part of the world whether it wanted to be or not, and that the march of progress would one day make it possible for the country's enemies to attack the U.S. with rockets.
Taft went down to defeat. He carried his home state of Ohio, and a few other states, but Steele carried the rest (including Maryland, which had gone Republican in the last election). On election night, Steele broke with usually tradition of celebrating with his cronies, preferring to stay in his room with Betty.
Steele's final inauguration on January 20, 1953 was normal, with Steele giving a reasonably solid speech decrying the Reds. In private, he told his aides that he was planning to outlast Trotsky, who was about the same age as Steele. He was convinced that the USSR would fall apart once Trotsky was gone. Instead, during a meeting with his key cronies on March 5, 1953, Steele seemed to have a hard time concentrating on what was being said, and kept rubbing behind his left ear. He said, "I have a terrific pain in the back of my head." Then his eye widened, slid shut, and he slumped forward. His aides carried him to a couch. He did mumble, "Be careful", but didn't say anything else. Dr. Pietruszka announced that he'd had another stroke, and that nothing more could done. Steele died shortly after Pietruszka made his diagnosis. His aides all burst into tears.
Garner, Hoover, and the End of Democracy
His successor, John Nance Garner, ordered an appropriate funeral. Steele's body lay in state in the Rotunda of the Capitol for three days in a row to accommodate the crowds who came to express their grief. When the authorities closed things down despite the remaining crowds, angry mourners threw rocks and bottles at the police and GBI agents who tried to clear them. Steele was then buried in Arlington National Cemetery, and President Garner gave the memorial address. Once Steele was in the ground, Garner began acting like a president. He got resignation letters from the entire Cabinet as a matter of form, including Steele's three key aides, Lazar Kagan, Stas Mikoian and Vince Scriabin, and Charlie Sullivan. However, once they'd signed the form letters, Garner announced that he accepted Kagan, Mikoian and Scriabin's resignations effective immediately. Sullivan he let stay on. While both Kagan and Scriabin were indignant, Mikoian had the presence of mind to ask why. Garner admitted that he was angered by the shabby treatment he'd received from the three. He offered them ambassadorships to soften the blow, with Mikoian going to Afghanistan, Kagan to Paraguay, and Scriabin to Outer Mongolia. He kept Charlie Sullivan around because Sullivan had in fact talked to him and even drank with him over the past 20 years.
He also secured the resignation of the entire cabinet, save for Secretary of State Dean Acheson and Secretary of War George Marshall. And while Mikoian and Kagan left the country for their respective assignments, Scriabin had no interest in going quietly to Outer Mongolia, and began to tap into the remaining clout he had in the Senate. Subsequently, Acheson died in a plane crash. A week later Marshall was about to give a speech, when he turned blue and keeled over. Despite there being several doctors on hand, Marshall could not be saved.
Garner figured out quickly that someone was moving against him, which he confided in Charlie Sullivan. He pointed out that the Presidential Succession Act of 1886 made the Secretary of State the successor if the President died and the position of Vice President was vacant. After a moment, Sullivan accused Scriabin, and told Garner how he'd overheard a phone call Scriabin made during the 1932 Democratic Convention just prior to the death of Governor Roosevelt. Garner listened, and decided that Scriabin wasn't the only person who make such deaths happen. Sullivan then reminded Garner of another likely enemy: J. Edgar Hoover. He suggested that Garner replace his guard detail, almost exclusively GBI agents, with soldiers. No sooner had Garner resolved to do all this than he was informed that the House had introduced legislation to impeach Garner for high crimes and misdemeanors, and suspected Scriabin's hand at work again.
Garner took steps to try to slow down the impeachment process. He issued an executive order eliminating the restricted zone for former wreckers, an act criticized by Hoover. Moreover, the leaders of the impeachment drive were unmoved. The death of Scriabin, who was hit by a car, also did little to halt the impeachment.
In the end the House passed three articles of impeachment, and the case went to the Senate, which voted overwhelmingly for conviction. Embittered, Garner gave a brief press conference where he promised that things would be far worse without him, as it still wasn't clear who was running the country. He planned to retire to Texas, although it was still unclear as to whether he might face criminal charges.
The following day, J. Edgar Hoover, claiming that Congress was attempting to arrogate the powers of the executive to themselves, took temporary executive authority as Director of the United States. He ordered the citizens to follow the local authorities, outlawed assemblies of ten people or more, and arrested Congressional leaders "responsible" for the current state of affairs. A few months later, a bomb blew up inside GBI headquarters, killing 26 people. Hoover had left just half an hour before. The GBI claimed a relative of a Representative who'd voted against impeaching Garner was responsible, and in response, Hoover clamped down further on Congress.
Thus, as 1953 came to an end, the outlook for the restoration of democracy in the U.S. looked grim indeed.
- Joe Steele, pgs. 2-3.
- Ibid., pg. 16-17.
- Ibid. pgs. 18-21.
- Ibid., pgs. 22-27.
- Ibid., pg. 2.
- Ibid., pg. 38.
- Ibid, pgs. 45-48.
- Ibid., pg. 58-59.
- Ibid. pgs. 49-51.
- Ibid, pgs. 64-65.
- Ibid., pg. 203.
- Ibid., pgs. 67-70.
- Ibid., pg.71-72
- Ibid., pg. 73-74.
- Ibid., pgs. 76-77.
- Ibid., pgs. 83-84.
- Ibid, pgs. 87-89.
- Ibid., pgs. 101-104.
- Ibid., pgs. 111, 117-118.
- Ibid., pg. 112.
- Ibid., pg. 113.
- Ibid., pg. 113.
- Ibid., pgs. 124-125.
- Ibid., pg. 125.
- Ibid., pg. 126.
- Ibid., pgs. 127-128.
- Ibid., pgs. 129-134.
- Ibid., pgs. 134-135.
- Ibid., pgs. 135-136.
- Ibid., pgs. 134-136.
- Ibid., pg. 137.
- Ibid., pgs. 138-140.
- Ibid., pgs. 141-142.
- Ibid., pgs. 143-148.
- Ibid., pgs. 150-151.
- Ibid. pgs. 155-157.
- Ibid., pg. 159.
- Ibid., pg. 159.
- Ibid. pg. 196.
- Ibid., pg. 202-203.
- Ibid., pgs. 203-204.
- Ibid., pgs. 205-207.
- Ibid., pg. 212.
- Ibid., pg. 213.
- Ibid. pg. 214.
- Ibid., pg. 215.
- Ibid., pg.
- Ibid., pg. 216.
- Ibid., pgs. 223-224.
- Ibid., pg. 225.
- Ibid., pg. 226.
- Ibid., pgs. 227-228.
- Ibid., pg.
- Ibid., pgs. 228-229.
- Ibid., pg. 234.
- Ibid., pgs. 234-235.
- Ibid., pg. 235.
- Ibid. pg., 236.
- Ibid., pgs. 237-239.
- Ibid., pgs. 239-240.
- Ibid., pgs. 241-242.
- Ibid., pg. 242.
- Ibid., pg. 243.
- Ibid., pgs. 243-244.
- Ibid., pgs. 244-245.
- Ibid., pgs. 246-247.
- Ibid., pg. 248.
- Ibid., pgs. 248-49.
- Ibid., pgs. 249-252.
- Ibid, pg. 256.
- Ibid, pgs. 257-260.
- Ibid., pgs. 265-267.
- Ibid, pg. 268.
- Ibid., pgs. 270-271.
- Ibid. pgs. 276-283.
- Ibid., pgs. 282-283, HC.
- Ibid., pgs. 290-292.
- Ibid., pg. 295-296.
- Ibid., pgs. 296-298.
- Ibid., pgs. 299-300.
- Ibid., pgs. 301-302.
- Ibid., pgs. 307-313.
- Ibid., pg. 314
- Ibid., pg. 315.
- Ibid, pgs. 320-322.
- Ibid., pg. 317-318.
- Ibid., pgs. 319-320.
- Ibid., pg. 323-325.
- Ibid., pg. 325.
- Ibid., pg. 326.
- Ibid., pgs. 324-328.
- Ibid., pg. 328-329.
- Ibid., pgs. 333-337.
- Ibid., pgs. 339-340.
- Ibid., pg. 344.
- Ibid., pgs. 349-354.
- Ibid., pg. 354.
- Ibid, pg. 354.
- Ibid, pgs. 355-358.
- Ibid., pg. 359.
- Ibid., pg. 364.
- Ibid., pg. 365.
- Ibid., pgs. 366-369.
- Ibid., pgs. 368-369.
- Ibid., pg. 371.
- Ibid., pg. 373.
- Ibid., pg. 376.
- Ibid, pg. 376-377.
- Ibid., pg. 378.
- Ibid., pgs. 382-383.
- Ibid., pgs. 389-390.
- Ibid., pgs. 391-393.
- Ibid., pg. 397.
- Ibid., pg. 398.
- Ibid., pg. 399.
- Ibid., pg. 400.
- Ibid. pgs. 403-406.
- Ibid., pgs. 414-415.
- Ibid., pgs. 416-417.
- Ibid., pg. 424.
- Ibid., pgs. 424-427.
- Ibid., pg. 427.
- Ibid. pg. 428.
- Ibid, pgs. 432-433.
- Ibid., pgs. 434-435.
- Ibid., pg. 437.