Friday, June 6, 2008

Who are th 12 greatest women alive today in the United States?

A Chilean writer asked this of the National League of Women Voters, and the League is now asking us. They want to see "a range of occupation, residence and temperament," and these must be "women who have made their own way, without the assistance of father or husband." Ha ha. That last condition excludes a lot of women who probably think they are pretty great.

The NYT contends that the 12 greatest women "are women that have never been heard of outside of their own homes, and seldom appreciated there; who have put aside their own ambitions ... to build careers for which their husbands got credit." But the League is looking for famous women, so the Times names 12 famous women: Geraldine Farrar, Edith Wharton, Carrie Chapman Catt, Molla Mallory, Alice Paul, Ida Tarbell, Jane Addams, Amy Lowell, Minnie Maddern Fiske, M. Carey Thomas, Mary Pickford, and Agnes Repplier. Ah, but "six of the twelve have never married," and the married ones are all childless. "Let those who think it is easy to manage a first-rate career and a first-rate home simultaneously find an explanation for that."

Well, my first attempt at an explanation would be to guess that the NYT composed its list of twelve with an eye toward who was childless. But, yet, it's certainly true that it's not easy to balance career and family. Why can't we factor that in as we select the greatest women? First, you say the really greatest women are the ones who put aside all career ambitions for the sake of the family, and then you present us with a list of great women who are all childless. It's obvious what you want to say. You want to warn women away from careers. Unless we are willing to abandon the hope for a good family, we should forget about having a career. This is a terrible message. Try harder to find good examples of women who have balanced family and work and show us how they have done it — or modern women should toss this reactionary newspaper aside. We deserve better.


Thursday, June 5, 2008

Tough anti-Communists reject "moral equivalence."

Walter Goodman reports in the NYT:

The use of the term ''moral equivalence'' is generally attributed to Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, the former United States Delegate to the United Nations, in her sharp criticism of that point of view.... She traced the willingnss [sic] of some in the West to believe there is ''not a dime's worth of difference betwen the two regimes'' in part to ''semantic manipulation'' by the Russions [sic] designed to ''delegitimize Western democracies and to detach the allegiance of its citizens.''
Various prominent neoconservatives were there: Irving Kristol, Norman Podhoretz, William J. Bennett, Michael Novak. There are so many typos in this article! Kristol's name is spelled "Kirstol." I think the neocons are making the NYT nervous. Attention is called to the fact that the meeting was sponsored by the State Department — AKA the "State Depratment"— which prohibited the use of the funds for ''publicity or propaganda." Does that mean conservatives must be balanced by liberals? That's a stretch. In any case, it seems that liberals — e.g. Noam Chomsky — turned them down.

But what really interests me here is Tom Wolfe, who gave the dinner talk, titled, as the Times writes it: ''The Intellegent coed's Guide to Socialism.'' (They're dum.) I'd love to get the text of this speech. Here's the summary — devoid of quotes that might convey Wolfe's hilarious, lively style:
[H]e suggested that intellectuals are attracted to socialism because it seems in ''good taste.'' In addition, he drew attention to what he called the ''secret promise'' of socialism, that intellectuals will wind up with power.
Sounds apt! This idea that people support the political theory that will bring them power... isn't it a political theory? Isn't it Marxism? But of course, Tom Wolfe must be a big right-winger or he wouldn't be speaking at that outrageous, State Depratment-funded, publicity-seeking propaganda fest.


Wednesday, June 4, 2008

"Natural laws? There are none. We make them and then attribute them to nature."

The NYT tries to explain the physics of "Young Professor Heisenberg." Is there any truth? Apparently it's all mere probabilities:

Why, then, do engineers and chemists undertake to build bridges or make rayon, confident that their plans will be realized? Because lumps of matter are merely statistical effects. In their vast conglomerations of atoms and electrons conflicts and agreements combine to form a colossal average that seems to obey the "laws of nature."
Meanwhile, in Berlin, Lady Grace Drummond-Hay reports to the NYT that she has spoken with General Hermann Wilhelm Goering and he has assured her that Germany is producing "one fully equipped military plane every three days" and that it's absurd to think — as newspapers have reported — that Germany is adding several hundred military planes every week. Lady Grace surmises that the reason Germany "is evading disclosure of the size of her air fleet is not because it is larger than the world thinks but because it is smaller."

It's hard to know what's going on in this world.


Tuesday, June 3, 2008

"At first only a few went overboard, but as the decks got hot the men saw their only chance was in the water..."

"Standing near the stern were two small boys, huddled up in a corner and too frightened to move. The flames were almost upon them, but they did not seem to realize their danger."

A thrilling account of the fire on The Bremen.

"Every man turned into a devil. We ran fighting and clawing and scratching and swearing for the ladder leading up to the deck. We found the hatches battened down. Great God, how the men did curse!... They pounded against the iron hatch. They pounded until the blood ran. Through the iron grating we saw flames...

"It was like hell down there. The men tore their clothes off... The men down at the bottom did not fight any more. One by one they just fell down and lay still. A big man near me said we ought to pray. Near me a fellow who had done a lot of fighting and cursing began to cry. Then he prayed."

Monday, June 2, 2008

"I... would very much enjoy seeing in the White House a lady President..."

"and, should she happen to be married, what one might call a prince consort, were we not so terribly democratic."

A letter to the editor, complaining that the Women's Party hasn't put up a female presidential candidate.


Sunday, June 1, 2008

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Lady Doyle go to Coney Island.

This is, apparently, huge news. Look at the size of the article, replete with quotes that show him scrambling for something nice to say when pressed about what he thought of the place:

"Coney Island doesn't give one time to think. I'm trying to get myself together. I must do that before I can think. But I certainly had a good time."
Later, he said he liked the dancing, and he seemed surprised to find refined dancing there.
He refused to discuss Coney's lights, noises, and exciting attractions. They didn't need discussion, he said. They spoke for themselves.
I think it's easy enough to read between the lines there. He didn't like it! He "shot the chutes," rode "the seemingly perilous Whip ride," and toured "the ridiculous Crazy Village."

But check out this article, published yesterday, that shows him expressing a lot of opinions — about suffragists, plumage laws, and New York skyscrapers. ("It seems as though some one had gone over the city with a watering pot and stupendous buildings had grown up overnight as a result.")


"Is this woodsy metaphor a foretaste of the amenities in which political women will deal?"

That's the daintily phrased question by Mrs. A.N. George of the National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage. She's offended by the reference to "the tactics of the pole-cat when badly frightened" that appeared in a resolution by the New England Woman Suffrage Association.

Cat fight!

The suffragists were denouncing the anti-suffragists for saying that the woman suffrage will lead to loose morals. It's slander! So send out another slander. Pole-cat!

And these are all women. You know, I believe in woman suffrage, but I had thought that women would bring a kinder, gentler tone to politics. George is cleverly demonstrating the kind, gentle tone on the anti side trying to make her point that the woman suffragists really are coarse and low. They said pole-cat. They put it in a resolution. It's bad enough to say it, but what an embarrassing demonstration of lack of understanding of politics to put pole-cat in a resolution.

I'm on the side of the suffragists, you know, so it troubles me deeply to see them look so bad next to the highly refined Mrs. George. But Mrs. George is a woman too, and I have to say that she has some excellent political skill. Women will win suffrage soon enough, I think. And the Mrs. Georges of the country will step up and vote. They can vote for legislators who will pass laws regulating morality if they're worried about morality. Come on, Mrs. George! Wouldn't that be better?


Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Lincoln Memorial was dedicated today.

President Harding spoke of Lincoln as a "natural human being with the frailties mixed with the virtues of humanity." And Chief Justice Taft spoke of Lincoln's "Christ-like character."

"21-INCH WAIST PASSES.; Boston Corset Maker Says Women Have Grown Stouter."

Oh, no! With the "no-corset fad," we've become fat! It's embarrassing to admit it, but now the average waist measurement for women is 28 inches! And men have been suffering the same fate as they've changed from belts to suspenders. Is it not enought to eat sensibly and exercise? Do we really need bondage to keep us from ballooning?


Friday, May 30, 2008

"Should he be introduced as a Neanderthal man, a bigot, a warmonger, looking out at us from the 19th century?"

Asked "the youthful-looking former Hollywood actor" Ronald Reagan, introducing Barry Goldwater. Is that sort of satirical edge going to help him best Nelson Rockefeller in next Tuesday's California primary?


"Mr. Clark's quintet... swirl their hair around their foreheads instead of wearing it in a beefeater bob."

Thanks to the NYT for explaining how to tell the difference between a Dave Clark 5 hairdo and a Beatles hairdo — assuming you know what the hell a "beefeater bob" is. (I'm picturing some guy saying "Hi, I'm Beefeater Bob.") The Times notes that the DC5 played Carnegie Hall and claims that the "big question" was whether they got their fans to scream more than the Beatles did 2 months ago.

The determinant in such cases is how much of the music, if any, can penetrate the sustained sound emitted by the votaries.
Yeah, that is the way the NYT insists on continuing to write in the modern world. The newspaper is hopelessly square. Where is the mod newspaper that I want to read now?

Look, here's how they describe the DC5's clothes:
They wear high, tight, wight collars, black jackets and what were once known as "ice cream pants."
Ice cream pants! Again, a helpful description. What the hell are ice cream pants? You know, I know what the Dave Clark 5 look like. These descriptions only make me wonder what these other references are. Descriptions are supposed to work the other way around.
In challenging the sonic inspirational qualities of the Beatles, Mr. Clark had one more man than the first group and two particularly penetrating instruments (saxophone and electronic keyboard) that the Beatles lack.
Congratulations on figuring out the the Dave Clark 5 has 5 guys in it.

Would it kill you to say something interesting?
The Clark group appears to play louder than the Beatles.
But you still couldn't hear them. That's the main point, as far as the Times can see. Oh, these noisy, noisy groups, and their noisy, ridiculous fans. You know the day will come when they'll figure out how to turn all the instruments and microphones up and we won't hear the girls scream anymore. We'll go deaf, of course, but before we do, we'll get to hear our favorite bands play.

Anyway, the Dave Clark 5 played for 24 minutes (the same as the Beatles). 24 unheard minutes. What pleasure. Well, they filled out th show with 2 "folk-singing groups" but it just bored the DC5 fans. And the NYT doesn't even tell us the names of those folky groups. Man, talk about getting no respect. The Dave Clark 5 fans don't care about them and the NYT won't even name them.


Thursday, May 29, 2008

"Unknown Man Commits Suicide."

"An unknown man, believed to be from New York, committed suicide on Saturday night in the woods back of the brownstone Episcopal church at Fort Lee by shooting himself. He was about sixty-five or seventy years of age, was six feet in height, and well but slimly built. He is clean shaven and bald, with a little gray hair on each side of the head."


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

''This Administration has been philosophically opposed to appointing people to any job on the basis of race or sex."

So says Gary L. Bauer, assistant to President Reagan, insisting that "it would be absurd to turn around and start appointing people based on sexual preference" to a public policy committee devoted to the AIDS epidemic. The committee has no openly gay members, and gay activists think it ought to have one. There is so much fear about AIDS testing. The most important thing is to find a cure, but, meanwhile, let's think carefully about the point of testing. What good does it do to learn you have a fatal disease when nothing can be done? Yes, you need to avoid spreading it, but everyone — especially anyone in a risk group — would do well to behave as if they or their partner is infected. I don't pretend to know what's best here, but isn't it a good idea to have representatives of the gay community on the committee? With so many people — young people — dying, is it really so important to make a philosophical point about affirmative action?


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

"There is little use in trying to beautify Central Park West if the line serving it terminates in the black belt of Harlem."

That's the objection of J. Bowie Dash, a director of the Central Park West and Columbus Avenue Association, about the proposed extension of the subway in New York City. The Association wants the route bent eastward so Harlem residents don't flow downtown.


Monday, May 26, 2008

"Will no one weep for tulips?"

A million tulip bulbs — that could live through the winter and bloom next spring — will be cruelly burned to ashes because they are aliens. They came into the United States duty-free to appear at the World's Fair, but now they must be destroyed. Maintaining the federal government's tariff structure is more important than beauty — more important than life. I saw those flowers. I am crying as I write this.


"Jews in Berlin were warned today that the 'ghetto' law forbidding them to live in Aryan-owned houses would soon be enforced..."

"... and they had 'better seek lodging in Jewish-owned houses now to avoid having quarters assigned to them by the city government.'"

The NYT reports today.

The law, proclaimed May 4, stipulates that Jewish householders must take in Jews at present living in "Aryan-owned" houses.

At the same time certain sections of Berlin — some of which were formerly regarded as "Jewish districts" because of a predominance of Jewish inhabitants — were declared "Aryan districts where Jews are not permitted to live."

These districts include the fashionable Tiergarten district, the near-by Luetzowplatz, the Potsdammerstrasse — one of the more important business streets — the Tauentzienstrasse, the Kurfuerstendamm, the Bayerisches Viertel and the Hansa Viertel. Both of the last-named formerly were largely populated by Jews.


Sunday, May 25, 2008

"President Reagan and the lawyers he has put in charge of protecting civil rights should stand ashamed."

"Racial hatred is not tax-exempt, the Supreme Court ruled yesterday by a lopsided vote."

The NYT excoriates the Reagan Administration:

On what basis could the Administration have sided with private academies claiming a religious basis for discriminatory admissions? It's hard to think of any basis other than pandering to the religious right. Courts have repeatedly ruled that such schools are not entitled to pick the taxpayer's pocket for money to finance racial bias. And three previous Administrations, of both parties, obeyed the courts. Ronald Reagan tried to sneak past a change in this policy with a quiet announcement.

When that produced a storm of criticism, the President claimed he was legally bound to grant the tax exemptions. He had the gall to say that if Congress wanted to forbid them, it would have to pass another law. Congress rightly refused to dignify that ploy with an answer. The Court now explains that Congress has already given it - in laws passed over 90 years and reaffirmed twice since 1976.
Here's that "lopsided" decision in Bob Jones University v. United States. The lone dissenter is — as anyone could have guessed — William Rehnquist. How much "gall" are we talking about? Enough to make Congress seem noble for not passing more specific legislation? Rehnquist wrote:
The Court points out that there is a strong national policy in this country against racial discrimination. To the extent that the Court states that Congress in furtherance of this policy could deny tax-exempt status to educational institutions that promote racial discrimination, I readily agree. But, unlike the Court, I am convinced that Congress simply has failed to take this action and, as this Court has said over and over again, regardless of our view on the propriety of Congress' failure to legislate we are not constitutionally empowered to act for it.
Why let Congress off the hook? It's a shame that all this litigation was necessary.


Friday, May 23, 2008

1. "Carpers, critics and killjoys" and 2. "reactionaries."

2 targets of the National Socialist party, as the NYT reports:

All the party speakers are scheduled for a whirlwind campaign that like some famous American newspaper mergers will combine the best features of both previous efforts.
Hmmm.... I'm not sure the NYT is taking the Nazis seriously enough. Like a newspaper merger? That's strange.
The new treason law provides decapitation as the extreme penality for conspiracy against the State, but whether the régime will go to the length of chopping off any notable heads is presently open to some doubt.
Notice the jocose use of the word "notable"? Does the NYT think the Nazis are just posturing?


"Racial minorities cannot be racist in the U.S.A." and "all whites are racist in the U.S.A."

2 statements in a NYC teachers' training manual. The "Lora Training Handbook: A Leader's Guide" — now withdrawn — was a response to an order by U.S. District Judge Jack B. Weinstein in a class action case about the disproportionate number of minority school kids who were getting assigned to special ed classes for the emotionally disturbed. The city was supposed to sensitize teachers to the problems of racism.

Here's the earlier NYT report on the manual:

One excerpt declares, ''In the United States at present only whites can be racists, since whites dominate and control the institutions that create and enforce American cultural norms and values.''

Another passage says: ''Even if an individual white American is free from all conscious racial prejudices, he/she remains a racist, for he/she receives benefits distributed by a white racist society through its institutions. . . . They do not have to consciously decide to oppress racial minorities in order to be racist.''

At another point, the handbook advises instructors that ''challenges are to be expected'' on the book's contentions that ''racial minorities cannot be racist in the U.S.A.'' and that ''all whites are racist in the U.S.A.'' The manual, Mr. Hikind noted, then provides instructors with ways to respond to such challenges.

Elsewhere... the manual declares, ''In order to change a racist society, all persons, particularly white persons in the U.S., must actively choose in some instance to question and go against authority, rules and values, in order to behave in an anti-racist way and fight a racist system"...
What is the conventional wisdom in academia is highly inflammatory when quoted to the general public. People don't want to hear that they are racist. I understand that the idea is to loosen up set ideas and to get people to rethink their perceptions and assumptions, but a different approach is going to be needed.


Thursday, May 22, 2008

"The ideal thing is to have a home near a small city where there are girls and movies."

Here's a report on the "rest homes" and service clubs in Australia for our servicemen on leave from battle. A Red Cross worker says our boys get along "awfully well" with the Australian girls — because they "speak the same language." I wish there was more in these meager reports! Do they get along well just because they speak the same language — and our boys are simply happy to be around any girls? Or is there something particular about Australians? Australians! I don't know anything about these girls. In my mind, they are just girls — speaking English. But they are making our boys happy. Thanks, Australian girls. I have a picture of them, those girls, with our boys. It's a vague picture, but it means something to me. Australian girls and American boys, going to the movies. What movies? What movies are playing in that small city in Australia? The article says the boys' favorite item on the rest home/service club menu is milk, and that they pick milk — and are healthier than the boys in the last war — because "health education has borne fruit." It's a wholesome image I'm getting from this tiny article: milk-drinking boys, going to the movies with English-speaking Australian girls. What movie are they seeing? I'm just going to go ahead and picture "Yankee Doodle Dandy."


"More news of the anti-Jewish campaign in Poland..."

"... picked up today from SWIT, the secret Polish radio station."


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

"Record Bag of Japanese Is Captured by Chinese."

A headline.

More headlines today:

"JAPANESE KILLED AT RATE OF 14 TO 1; OWI Reports on Casualties of Enemy From Guadalcanal to Naha Outskirts."

"TOKYO DENIES TALK OF BID FOR PEACE; Washington Doubts Reports of 'Feelers' Because Army Still Controls Japan."

"What the GI Is Thinking About; He doesn't like the idea of going to the Pacific but knows the job must be done."

And finally, depressingly:

"'Kamikaze'; Japan Fights Fiercely." ("As the Allied ring drew tighter around the Japanese empire last week, as American air blows rained heavier on the home islands, Japan's strategy of defense was "kamikaze" — a suicidal resistance.")


Now that the curfews are lifting and people are going to nightclubs again...

... let's ask a psychology professor: Why do people go to nightclubs?

Nightclubs evolved out of the speakeasies of the Prohibition Era, and these days they are mostly legal, but there is still a bit of a sense that they are sinful and risqué.

At the bar of the Stork Club... a coated matron raised her voice.

"I do as much for the war effort as anybody," she told her male civilian companion defiantly. If consuming liquor was aiding the war effort, she seemed to be in a fair way that night night of winning the Japanese conflict single-handedly....

People come to nightclubs just to congregate — to see and to be seen...

J. Edgar Hoover is to be found at the far part of the Cub Room with his aide, Clyde Tolson...

The debs com in for lunch, drink mostly coke (at 75 cents a bottle, nickel size) or milk....

"I wonder if they're going to be married," they say. "Isn't that a divine hat?" or a "fetching frock," or a "charming ensemble," or "Why isn't he in the Army?"...

Taking in a night club is a big event in small people's lives. Most people have always had the desire to go and now they feel they can satisfy that desire.
Do we really need an explanation? People want to enjoy life — and the enjoyment of life is within reach. It's not wrong to want to dress up and go out to eat and drink and have a little fun. It's a simple pleasure.


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Don't backslide into "bourgeois democracy."

Pravda warns Czechoslovakia.

Czechoslovakia wasn't named, but the meaning of "some people" — who want political freedoms — was clear enough in an article that touted the superiority of socialist democracy for providing "economic and spiritual benefits" instead of bourgeois concerns about constitutions. Say a prayer for Czechoslovakia.


"Rabblerousers and hatemongers, members of the New Left who are really unwashed members of the old right, practicing storm trooper tactics."

Governor Ronald Reagan doesn't mind telling us what he really thinks of student protesters.

By the way: NYT, do you think you could spell his name right more than 75% of the time — now that he seems to be running for President?


Monday, May 19, 2008

It is not an outside enemy that will destroy America, but our own "materialism, paganism, lust, sin and selfishness."

So says the Rev. Dr. Norman Vincent Peale. No matter how big our armies and how powerful our weapons, he says, "The enemy will get into the hearts of a wicked and disolute people." We need religion, in his view. "One individual, completely surrendered to God, is of more value than an army."

"London is almost reduced to ruins now. But if peace is made now and we go on for the next twenty-five years as we have lived for the last, it will be pulverized to dust by the war of 1960."
I must confess that I cannot understand this Peale character. What have we done in the last quarter century that's all that terrible? Look at what is going on in the world right now. Can't he be clear and say that is wrong and we need to fight? Instead he picks on us for the ordinary human character flaws we might have. Maybe he is saying that we need to be strong so we'll be able to fight. But he just can't help making that into an occasion for insisting that we be more religious. Eh. It's a sermon. What can you expect? I'll tell you what: a little more optimism. I don't need to hear about getting pulverized to dust in some war 19 years from now. You know, there's something to be said for positive thinking.


"France is not a dominion of the United States."

That's the attitude of the French press today:

"As far as Mr. Roosevelt's decisions are concerned one must ask by what right on on the basis of what treaties he is interfering," said the Matin.

"France did not fall in this war in behalf of Roosevelt or Churchill but for France," added L'Oeuvre.


"Vichy Forecasts Nazi Pact in Week... Form to Stress Economic and Moral Factors... Continental Solidarity Is the Keynote..."

A headline today.

The article recounts the opinion of the Temps, the French newspaper read by "financiers, manufacturers and the liberal professions":

"None among us has forgotten the apostolate of Chancellor Hitler, who, even before becoming the master of Germany, quickened the strength of his country by awakening in the minds of his compatriots the ancient and noble — and also grim — notion of national honor. It seems impossible that this ardent apostle should not admit that a foreign people, even vanquished — especially if vanquished — may also feel itself bound by honor. In point of fact we know that he admits it. Since her defeat France has received his salute both as soldier and as political leader. And we were even told that in order to rebuild a well-balanced Europe France would naturally be called upon for her share of intelligence and effort."
Vanquishment is rough. It makes you say the most godawful stupid things.


Sunday, May 18, 2008

Will American youth unite with "the entire democratic, progressive youth" of the world?

That's how Komsomolskaya Pravda (the official newspaper of the Central Committee of the Komsomol in the Soviet Union) analyzes things, the NYT tells us at this link that might not work:

[T]he article says that "inspired by the great ideals of democracy, American youth selflessly fought the dark forces of fascism. Now they lawfully are striving toward the complete realization of those democratic principles that would give every American boy and girl a chance to find employment to his or her liking, to work without fear of tomorrow, to have wide opportunities for cultural leisure and general education." As an indication of what American youth may be expected to do, the article says: "During the war the self-consciousness of American youth has considerably developed."

By way of conclusion, Komsomolskaya Pravda points out the American youths' identity of interests with those of progress and democratic youth everywhere. American youth, the article says, understands that it has to take the solution of its own problems into its own hands.
Of course, they have to say capitalism is the source of all the problems, but you can't just slough this off. The U.S. Department of labor statistics say that by late spring there will be 8 million people unemployed in the United States.


Saturday, May 17, 2008

The White House announcer calls him "Justice Breyer."

It's our new Supreme Court nominee, Stephen G. Breyer, but he's not Justice Breyer until the Senate confirms him.

Some Democratic senators have grumbled that the President allowed Republicans to dictate his choice....

Mr. Clinton said: "The Constitution requires the President to seek not only the consent, but the advice, of the United States Senate. And I did that."
I like to see a solid, sensible, moderate justice, but I can see why some Democrats are grumbling. When they get finally their shot at a nominee — who knows how long it will be before they get another? — they want somebody strong, representing their point of view. It's been decades since we've had a truly passionate liberal on the Court. I'm thinking of William O. Douglas. But it's been a while since we've seen the likes of Thurgood Marshall and William Brennan. Harry Blackmun was the closest thing we had to a liberal, and now he's to be replaced by this Stephen Breyer character who, everyone knows, Bill Clinton rejected the first time around because he was too coolly dispassionate.
Elaine Jones, the director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, expressed some reservations about Judge Breyer. "He's a brilliant legal mind, no doubt about it," she said in an interview. "I know he's got the capacity, but he's got to have the fervor, too."
Yes, "fervor"... it sounds wrong for a judge. But don't we need at least some judges with fervor? Our conservative Justices seem rather fervent at times. Can Stephen Breyer offset them properly? You have to look at the whole array of Justices and think about the balance — try to predict how they will interact.
But the dissent today was mostly around the edges of the debate. Senator Alan K. Simpson, Republican of Wyoming, dismissed the suggestion that Mr. Clinton had nominated Judge Breyer to avoid a messy confirmation fight over his first choice, Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt.

"Well, I had the biggest laugh of the day on that," he told reporters after the Rose Garden ceremony. "I mean, how the hell do a couple of ragged Western senators control what the President does in selecting a Supreme Court nominee? I can't imagine."
Wait. Was Simpson laughing deviously? Look at that quote. He laughed and he wondered how it could be that a little old Senator like him could manipulate a President. That doesn't mean he didn't think he did it. Maybe he's just amazed that the Prez caved. Ha ha ha — biggest laugh of the day.
Mr. Clinton agreed. "I think that when you do consult broadly, and you think about it and you're personally involved in it, as I've tried to be, you tend to make the right decision," he said.
Well, of course, he's going to assert that he made the right decision. But didn't Clinton cave?
It was last Saturday, May 7, when President Clinton first began to appreciate that his effort to choose a Supreme Court nominee was going to be far more difficult than he had hoped. Although Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt's name had been under consideration for some weeks, Mr. Clinton realized that his choice of the moment would not sail through the Senate and could create a wider set of political problems.

Further, one of the President's other two top candidates, Judge Richard S. Arnold, a friend from Arkansas, has cancer. That left only Judge Stephen G. Breyer of Boston. Mr. Clinton had regarded him as aloof and unappealing when they met last year, but in the end, Judge Breyer presented the fewest problems, and his friends convinced the President that he had misjudged him.

Although they had been engaged in a search for the past six weeks, Mr. Clinton and his top advisers, including, at important moments, his wife, Hillary, found themselves plunged into a tumultuous deliberation over the last week. The process was more public than they had wanted and hinged far less on jurisprudence than on personal and political considerations, including a possible fight over Mr. Babbitt's successor that could complicate Mr. Clinton's highest priority, health care.

The President found himself lobbied heavily by supporters of Judge Breyer, the man he named on Friday. Judge Breyer's backers lauded him as one of the nation's top jurists. One even sent a videotape meant to humanize the man Mr. Clinton had rejected for an earlier Court vacancy....

Judge Breyer was a finalist last year when President Clinton chose Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg as his first nominee to the Court. White House officials said they had turned away from Judge Breyer then because he had not fully paid Social Security taxes for a nanny, a hot issue at the time in Washington.

But in truth, officials acknowledged, the principal reason for the rejection was that Mr. Clinton found Judge Breyer didactic and distant when they met to discuss the nomination. The President, one White House official said, thought him distinctly uncharming.
Read that whole article. Clinton was excessively attentive to Senators, it seems. Do you think that if the next President is a conservative Republican, he's going to worry about Democratic Senators or that he will simply pick the very best conservative jurist he can find and fight for him or her? If the latter, those who want a passionate liberal now will be saying, but Bill Clinton consulted with Senators from the opposite party and nominated someone that everyone felt comfortable with. And those who are having a big laugh this week will be having another big laugh. Nice going, Bill. And good luck with that health care plan.


"Trust me, it works" — it's Apple's new touchpad.

"It takes a while to get used to the notion that something as blunt and rounded as a fingertip can precisely position something as small and pointed as a pixel..."

Ha ha. I remember not even understanding how a mouse was supposed to point at something that wasn't under it.


Friday, May 16, 2008

What are we to do about wealth? Teddy Roosevelt says let's not go to extremes.

Governor Roosevelt says that some people want government to confiscate all the wealth from corporations. They seem to think that "it is the duty of all railroad corporations to carry everybody free and give him a chromo." And then there are those other people — "scarcely less primative" — who don't think corporations should pay any tax at all. This is an especially stupid position because it "inevitably tends to produce the man who occupies the first position." So "the worst enemy of property" are those who think property is untouchable by government. Worse of all are the legislators, those who say:

"I am against corporations; ain't going to give them any powers."

And those who say:

"The corporations — they want this? What will they pay for it?"

Let's hope the New York governor gets his way.


Queen Victoria pats a terrier.

And drops a piece of gold in the box hanging from his neck.


"I am not an advocate of the use of the bicycle among women, when viewing it from the morality phase."

So wrote the Rev. W.W. Reynolds, pastor of the Brightwood Methodist Church of Indianapolis.

Women of refinement and exquisite moral training addicted to the use of the bicycle are not infrequently thrown among the uncultivated and degenerate element of both sexes, whose coarse, boisterous, and immoral gestures are heard and seen while speeding along our streets and boulevards.
Get a grip, Reynolds. He goes on about the "shorter dresses than the laws of morality and decency permit." Spare me. Women want to be mobile, and shorter dresses are a practical adaptation. Reynolds seems terribly concerned about morality, and well he should be, as his mind is apparently roiling with sexual feeling. Let him take care of that one way or the other. And let the women bicycle wherever they please, wearing whatever clothing is suitable for the healthy enterprise.


Thursday, May 15, 2008

"Max Conrad, 47-year-old songwriter and father of nine children, arrived at La Guardia Airport at 2:39 o'clock yesterday afternoon..."

"... with four snappy new tunes in his portfolio." He flew solo in a light plane from California and broke a speed record, so maybe you'll be interested in the songs "It's True," "My Cabin Window," "Poor Cathlena," and "Green Water."

When questioned by telephone the pilot said he felt fine. He was asked to hum a few bars of "Green Water." He did. It's hard to judge songs by telephone. The connection was not good, either.

THE YEAR THAT BLOG FORGOT IS: 1951. (This is the year I was born.)

New York grieves for Makoko, the gorilla who drowned in a moat at the Bronx Zoo.

1,2oo zoo visitors were there to see the huge animal fall into the moat and die. And now, you won't be seeing the gorillas, gibbons, chimps, and orangutan in the nice outdoor displays any more. The zoo has brought them all indoors lest any others topple into the deep water that used to seem like a good way to keep them from escaping.

RIP Makoko.


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

"They're all from Harvard, Yale, or Columbia. Shipman was from the Southwest, and he had an accent--so they screwed him."

Harvard Law School denies tenure to Morgan Shipman, and some people are seeing unfair prejudice:

"A lot of students think the Faculty vetoed Shipman because he didn't fit in. [Richard M. Sims 3L] explained. "He's a Texan, large, a little clumsy, and he speaks with a drawl. He's not polished--everyone else around here is polished--but he's a good teacher and very receptive to students. He keeps his door open to students."


Linda LeClair is not hip. She's a housewife. And she doesn't even know it.

"Public interest in sex on the college campus is insatiable," says Miss Martha Peterson, the president of Barnard College, in a letter to alumnae.

Everyone is talking about Linda LeClair, the Barnard sophomore who's living with her boyfriend. Here's the article on LeClair that came out a couple weeks ago in Time:

Pert, lank-haired Linda LeClair, 20, from Hudson, N.H., enrolled as a freshman at Manhattan's Barnard College in 1965. Soon afterward, she met Peter Behr, a Columbia University freshman from New York City, at a dormitory dinner. Romance blossomed, and when Linda became ill and had to drop out of school a few months later, the couple moved into a West Side apartment together. Last year, still living off-campus with Peter, Linda resumed her studies.

... Peter and Linda freely explained that they began living together because they regarded marriage as "too serious a step."

She and Peter, a draft resister who has dropped out of Columbia, began cranking out mimeographed leaflets calling the case a "Victorian drama." They also distributed questionnaires asking other Barnard students whether they had violated the housing regulations in any way, triumphantly reported to newsmen that 300 girls had answered yes....
Miss Peterson assures the upset alums that the controversy will be put to "constructive purposes." I don't suppose the "constructive purposes" are supposed to be more sex on campus, but that's what it's likely to be whether it pleases Miss Peterson or not.

Frankly, I'm less worried about sexual freedom than I am about this tendency of young people to limit their freedom by setting up a marriage-like living arrangement with the person they happen to be having sex with. This way of life may shock some people, but it's not very liberating. Be independent. Live on your own. Don't tie yourself down. Sure: Have sex. But don't fall prey to the ridiculous idea that keeping house together is something excitingly modern. It's just common law marriage and it's the most boring, stodgy, stunting thing in the world. Linda LeClair is not hip. She's a housewife. And she doesn't even know it.


Bobby Kennedy may have won the Indiana primary, but his support slipped in the end.

Harris polling showed he had 50% of the vote 2 weeks before the primary and only 42% on the day of the primary. His victory edge came entirely from the cities, where he won "the industrial worker vote" and "83 per cent of the Negro vote." Pollster Harris thinks Indiana worked out for Kennedy because of the "lopsided ethnic vote," but that's not going to go well nationally, where his support is "sagging." Upscale professional types prefer Eugene McCarthy.

Me, I love Bobby Kennedy — and I never love politicians. I mean, look at this other article. Bobby was talking to white college students in Nebraska, and they're defending their draft deferments, which of course means that service falls to those who don't go to college. One student justified this state of affairs on the theory that it's a way of "helping Negroes escape from the slums of American cities." Bobby got mad:

"Here at a Catholic university, how can you say that we can deal with the problems of the poor by sending them to Vietnam? There is a great moral force in the United States about the wrongs of the Federal Government and all the mistakes Lyndon Johnson has made and how Congress has failed to pass legislation dealing with civil rights; and yet when it comes down to you, yourselves and your own individual lives, then you say students should be draft deferred."


ADDED: Rereading that quote of Bobby's, I have to say it doesn't cohere. It's a rambling set of phrases. He lists problems, then tells them they care about their draft deferments. There is a point in there that could be made, but it looks as though all he did was react emotionally to their selfishness. But are voters not supposed to care about issues that affect them personally? We're all expected to be directed toward the common good all the time?

AND: I tried to find video of that exchange with the students in Nebraska. I didn't find it, but I did find this clip of Bobby delivering the news — 6 weeks ago — that Martin Luther King had been killed. This is an astonishing speech — and it makes me sorry I called attention to what I thought was incoherence:

The U.S. is accused of "monstrous crimes" as the peace talks begin in Paris...

.. and we accuse the North Vietnamese of "aggression."

North Vietnam's Xuan Thuy spoke first, for an hour and a half. "World opinion and progressive American opinion" are against the United States, he said, in words that were translated into French and thence into English. That the U.S. is in "a quagmire" is an idea the New York Times attributed to Thuy. Who knows what Vietnamese word led via French, then English to that NYT paraphrase?

But we readers of the NYT — we of "progressive American opinion" — know: Vietnam is a quagmire. Thuy insists that we stop bombing North Vietnam, and we seek "most earnestly" — in the words of chief American delegate Averell Harriman — "South Vietnam's freedom from attack and its right to determine its own future."


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

"Berlin Feels a Thrill of the Old Prussian Spirit as Troops Goosestep and Crowds Sing."

The NYT reports.

Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg, in the seventy-eighth year of a life devoted to the cult of war for the greater glory of German monarchs, today, as Germany's President-elect, swore fealty to a republic reared upon the ruins of the monarchy and committed to the cult of peace.


Speaking of snakes.

They found a snake in Ireland!


CORRECTION: That was snake, not snakes.

The grand explorer W.M. McGovern will "captivate the head-hunters" by playing jazz on the phonograph he will carry into the Brazilian jungle.

The NYT reports, assuring us that the dangers of the jungle have been greatly exaggerated. Ants are more of a problem than the much talked about snakes, and the Indians are "peaceable and kind-hearted." I hope so, for McGovern's sake, and I hope he brings back some nice motion pictures of the Indians hearing our crazy music for the first time.


If women are competent to be jurors, is it because they are LESS emotional than men?

Justice Charles L. Guy of the New York Supreme Court thinks so. His point is that women's emotions — while perhaps more numerous than men's — are less deep. He admits that it would be hard to prove this, but — as the NYT paraphrases:

The doctors say that women are less sensitive to pain than men, but that, if true, may be because the women, having more pain to bear than men, have learned through the ages to endure it better, to accept it as the course of nature.

The emotionality of women appears to be aroused within narrower limits than those of men — personalities interest them more than generalities, and when the persons do not interest them some of them can be what to men seems strangely, even brutally, callous.
Hey, I like "Guy" as a name for a guy who has so much to say about the difference between guys and ladies, and I'm feeling strangely, even brutally, callous toward him. Still, I can see this is helpful toward the rights of women. He's saying, don't worry that women are too soft and sympathetic. If they aren't interested in you, they'll be just as happy as men to send you to the electric chair.

The Times notes that Guy had nothing to say about the conventional worry that the courtroom will wreck women's "delicacy and refinement." Neither the Times nor Guy says anything about how it might be a good thing to try to get some delicacy and refinement onto the jury. It's all about women and men being equal these days, and only unenlightened folk get twisted up thinking about how we are different.... except that part about us women being shallow. Somehow that was okay.


Monday, May 12, 2008

20 years after Brown v. Board of Education and what is it like...

... here in "the spring of Nixon's discontent"?

Roger Wilkins wonders where we are. One third of black Americans are still "mired in poverty," and Vernon Jordan says, "If we don't find a way out for that hard core one-third, I believe that we have the seedbed for the most rebellious revolution we can imagine."



Does anyone even know that word? It's underwear. Ladies' underwear. We're wearing underwear on the outside now. We're baring our souls these days... and we're wearing our underwear on the outside now.


"Ethically they show themselves to be cynical and unscrupulous."

"Intellectually, they are slovenly. In emotional terms, their rare expressions of compassion are overwhelmed by their prevailing attitudes of manipulation and distrust. Their language is cruel, obscene, cliché-ridden and mechanistic."

The NYT reads the transcripts from Richard Nixon's White House and is duly appalled. The word that strikes obliquely is mechanistic. Are we so concerned that men are becoming machines? Is Nixon's problem that he is not human enough or that he is too human?