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Franklin bifocals Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Louisiana Purchase - Mississippi to the Rockies
[1803 - Senate ratifies Louisiana Purchase Treaty, doubling size of the country]

Philosopher John Dewey    John Dewey quotation
[1859 - John Dewey, psychologist, philosopher, born in Burlington, Vermont]

Composer Charles Ives
[1874 - Charles Ives, Pulitzer Prize-winning
composer, born in Danbury, Connecticut]

Actor Bela Lugosi    Bela Lugosi as Count Dracula
[1882 - Bela Lugosi (Blasko), actor, born in Lugos, Transylvania, Hungary]

Blues Great Jelly Roll Morton
[1890 - Ferdinand 'Jelly Roll' Morton, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
singer, piano player, bandleader, born in New Orleans]

Mystery Writer Ellery Queen
[1905 - Ellery Queen (Frederic Dannay),
author, born in Brooklyn]

Actress Arlene Francis
[1907 - Arlene Francis (Kazanjian), actress,
born in Boston, Massachusetts]

Actor Herschel Bernardi
[1923 - Herschel Bernardi, actor,
born in New York City]

Writer Art Buchwald
[1925 - Art Buchwald, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist, born in New York City]

Mantle Hall of Fame plaque
Mickey Mantle
[1931 - Mickey (Charles) Mantle, Baseball Hall of Famer, born in Spavinaw, Oklahoma]

[1947 - Red Scare - House Un-American Activities Committee opens investigation into
communist infiltration of American movie industry]

1965 Volvo PV544
[1965 - Last PV544 is driven off Volvo assembly line in Sweden]

Sydney Opera House
[1973 - Sydney Opera House opens]

Plain Scared

On this anniversary of the Red Scare of the '40s and '50s it seems appropriate to take note of the scare tactics exploited by more recent politicians to advance their political agenda. The greatly increased surveillance of citizens, secret searches of telephone logs, email, and library records, sweeping police powers under the "Patriot" act, and other repressive measures perpetrated by the federal government made a mockery of our Constitutional rights in the name of the War on Terrorism. When the Attorney General (Chief law enforcement officer in the nation) made an open appeal for US citizens to spy on one another, you knew that our rights and freedoms were in serious jeopardy. Add to this a mentality in the White House, Pentagon, and Department of Justice that put the President and his Cabinet above the law when they claimed to be combating the terrorist threat, and you had the makings of a police state.

Our spineless representatives in Congress were neither a check nor a balance on the excesses of the Executive Branch, then or now. In fear of being painted as soft on terrorism in the next election, they rubber stamped or caved-in to whatever the President sent them. The only bulwark against the attack on our freedoms was the federal judiciary, but President Bush may have removed this impediment by packing the courts with loyal right wing ideologues. Nor has the Obama administration completely reversed or abandoned the numerous threats to individual rights fashioned by its predecessor.

Osama Bin Laden might now declare victory. With the help of our government he has succeeded in moving the USA in the direction of a Christian Fundamentalist Society that could prove every bit as repressive as the Muslim Fundamentalist Society he espouses.

William's Whimsical Words:

O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave . . .

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