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Tomconroy's Journal
Tomconroy's Journal
May 31, 2021

Sometimes we can use a little FDR optimism.

All my life I have read books about President Franklin Roosevelt. It's given me perspective on the politics of today. No matter how awful the dark right fed rumors about President Obama (He was born in Kenya. Bill Ayers wrote his books) or the junk about President Biden that gets published on FR today, it was nothing compared to the right wing sludge that was spread about FDR: He was a crippled imbecile controlled by Eleanor. He was secretly Jewish (that sort of story is always with us). He planned the bombing at Pearl Harbor. And on and on. FDR faced opposition from the conservative elements of his own party. He faced a reactionary Supreme Court. He couldn't pass all of his agenda. He wanted there to be health care component to Social Security but couldn't get it through. He tried to expand the Supreme Court. He just came close but couldn't quite do it.
Through it all he never lost faith in the country or in the ultimate triumph of his policies. Maybe something to bear in mind as we deal with similar problems today.
I do have one FDR story that I think tells us something about his personality and his way of dealing with the issues that confronted him. Admittedly this comes at the very end of his life.
Arthur Krock was the then very conservative columnist for the New York Times. In maybe March of 1945 he was attending a public dinner where FDR was present. As FDR was rolled down the aisle at the end Krock noticed the grey pallor, the slack jaw, the fact that FDR was slumped over in his wheel chair. The look of concern must have been evident on Krock's face. Then FDR spotted him and everything changed. The President was sitting up straight, his cigarette holder was clenched at a jaunty angle, the famous Roosevelt grin spread across his face.
"Cheer up Arthur." He said as he was rolled by. "Things are rarely as bad as you say they are."
We've been here before. We are going to keep making progress.

May 31, 2021

I hope someone with more computer skills

Than I will put up a link to the recently posted NY Times story about the young woman (not Ashley Babbitt) who died during the indirection on 1/6. No judgments. It's interesting reading.

May 30, 2021

Thinking of my father this Memorial Day weekend.

He grew up in the Depression.He volunteered for the Navy in April 1942. He told me once he was watching a baseball game and couldn't stand the thought of not serving. He signed up the next day. He was on a ship in the South Pacific for a year. Then he was one of three selected out of 1000 sailors to be sent to officers school in the V12 program. After the war he served in the Reserves. Then he was called on again to serve on active duty for the duration of the Korean War.
He stayed in the Reserves and eventually retired as a reserve officer.
He loved the Navy. All his life he would say: "There's a right way. There's a wrong way. And there's the Navy way."
In the later years of his life he reconnected with some he served with during the Korean War through a retired officers association. He never missed a reunion of his WW II ship, the USS Wharton. I drove him to his last one in Asheville, NC.
President Roosevelt was thinking of my father when in 1936 he said: "To some generations much is given. Of other generations much is expected. I believe that this generation has a Rendezvous with Destiny."

May 21, 2021

The fate of TCM

I'm a bit worried about what is going to happen to TCM. It really only exists because Ted Turner loved old movies. As long as it was owned by Time Warner and Ted was on the board TCM had a protector. Then it and all of the Time Warner entertainment entities were sold to ATT and existed at the whims of corporate cost cutters. Now it's being sold again to some entity controlled by the Discovery Channel (I think).
TCM used to be a go to channel when we had Comcast Cable. We cut the cord years ago but I did read recently that Comcast had taken TCM off basic cable and stuck it with some sports channels in a premium, pay extra tier. The reason given was that TCM didn't have enough viewers.
I was so happy, after cutting the cord to find Sling TV offering a package of all the news and finance channels plus TCM. My life was complete. But I am worried that there will be no one at this new entity to protect old movies. I don't know what can be done about it.

May 18, 2021

Bank of America announced a plan to raise the minimum wage for employees to $25 per hour

by 2025. Pretty remarkable. I'd link to the story if I could do links. It's up on Bloomberg news.
Sometimes the news is good.

May 16, 2021

"Metropolitan" on TCM at 8:00PM

Whit Stillman's masterpiece from 1990. Long live the U.H.B.! And the Sally Fowler Rat Pack!

May 13, 2021

That road to Key West.

Nothing like a medical issue to focus your concentration on life. I always wanted to take that drive from Miami to Key West. Anybody have any suggestions for places to stay, places to eat? Key Largo? Key West? Anywhere in between? I know about Capt. Tony's. Where do you buy a parrot head?

May 11, 2021

Sometimes I think about the words of a Republican President.

The times were more frought than today. And of course it ended as badly as it could have. Maybe it just doesn't apply today.
" I loathe to close. We are not enemies, we are friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature."
I have lived through a lot of battles for the soul of the country. The other side was wrong, but at this point in my life, I guess I regard them as my fellow citizens. Not evil, just wrong.

May 9, 2021

Would you have stormed the Capitol on 1/6 if the election had been stolen by Trump?

I don't mean to excuse the insurrectionists. I think all of them need to do a little jail time. And some need to do a lot of jail time. But I can't help but think about what could have happened. I was absolutely convinced that those Republican legislatures were going to send their own set of electors to Washington. Kavanaugh had apparently written an opinion giving state legislatures a roadmap to overturning a democratic election. Only because of some unknown Republican office holders was democracy upheld.
If Trump had actually succeeded in his vile scheme I don't know what I would have done. I think I would have done something. I'm 66 years old, in lousy shape, but I wouldn't have let our democracy be stolen. I wouldn't have used bear spray and I guess would have been prepared to do some time.
We came so close to losing our democracy. It still makes me angry.

May 2, 2021

My wife's encounter with Justice Scalia

This goes back a decade or so. My wife is the classics translator Sarah Ruden. You can google her. In her world she is famous. (I guess for the sake of the story it is worth knowing that she is a Quaker pacifist.) At this time she was a visiting scholar at Wesleyan University in Connecticut. It had been announced that Justice Antonin Scalia would be visiting the university to give an endowed lecture before a crowd of several hundred people at the university chapel. One day she got an email inquiring if she wanted to attend a small luncheon the university would be throwing to welcome Scalia in the afternoon. Sarah immediately replied that she wanted to go, only to be told that the invite had been sent in error to way too many people. Sarah wrote back saying that they really should invite her. She and Scalia did the same thing. They interpreted ancient texts. Well, her pitch worked (Probably along with the fact that she was the only Guggenheim Fellowship winner on campus). She got the invitation to the lunch.
At this time I was working as a public defender. Àlthough I'm sure Scalia rightly has a terrible reputation as a jurist among most readers of this site, it was a bit different for criminal lawyers. Scalia had authored some seminal opinions vindicating the rights of defendants, particularly in the area of search and seizure law. I gave Sarah a copy of a case of his called Crawford v. Washington. Simply put, it raised an objection based on hearsay to the level of a constitutional violation of the right to confront witnesses. It changed what lawyers do in the court room. Instead of saying "Objection, hearsay", you say "This evidence violates the Confrontation Clause of the US Constitution (and it's hearsay).
The day came for the lunch. There were maybe 35 people attending. First there was a reception. Sarah remembers several people inviting Scalia to a concert where someone had written a new piece of music celebrating the Bill of Rights. Scalia politely indicated he would rather be water boarded.
Anyway, it came time to sit down for lunch. Through clever maneuvering Sarah was seated on the corner, one place away from Scalia. The lunch proceeded about halfway through with a variety of conversational gambits, none really catching fire. Then there was a pause and Sarah took her chance:"My husband is a public defender. He wanted me to thank you for Crawford v. Washington". Well, that got his attention. They talked about the case a little bit. Sarah said how impressed she was by a reference he made in the text to Star Chamber Assemblies. Scalia told her "My clerks put in a lot of that stuff". Then he added: It's true, I really should be a centerfold pinup for the criminal bar. His final word on the subject was: The worst part of my job is that I have to do favors for groups of people I can't stand, like criminal defense lawyers!
Sarah then went to the real reason for attending the lunch. She proceeded to explain what she did for a living and proceeded to tell him about a theory popular in the world of bible translation called Dynamic Equivalence. The essence of the theory, as I understand it, is that you can not just translate a text word for word. You have to translate it in a way that will have meaning for its readers. The original intent of an author is difficult to know. The important thing is the effect the text has on its audience. Of course Scalia, the original Originalist, would have none of it. The conversation went back and forth, Sarah citing examples of how you would translate bible stories for an African villager, Scalia saying she was all wrong. You could explain things in the footnotes. He didn't agree, but he did find the subject interesting, particularly since it touched on religion. By now everyone else in the room was just listening. The argument ended in a friendly draw and the conversation moved on to a number of other subjects, in particular, there was a discussion of a mutual love of vacationing at the South Carolina shore. He knew Pawleys Island well.
When it came time for the lunch to end Scalia invited Sarah to walk out with him to his waiting limo. When they reached the car he threw his arms around her and gave her an enormous hug.
The other night when I was going over the story with Sarah so I could tell it here, she suddenly paused and asked me "Why aren't they like that anymore?"
I really don't know.

Profile Information

Name: Tom Conroy
Gender: Male
Home country: USA
Current location: Langley, Virginia
Member since: Sat Mar 6, 2021, 07:56 PM
Number of posts: 7,611

About Tomconroy

Member of NAFO. Living large on an enormous CIA paycheck.

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