The Charlotte News

Friday, March 10, 1939


Site Ed. Note: "So Many Dependents" delivers up a startling suggestion, even for today: that legislators should acquire at least some casual sociological understanding of the constituents for whom they legislate, and put greater premium on same than merely trawling for votes.

Wouldn't that be a day?

Pardon us our cynicism.

Perhaps, in fact, after all, they do.

Such as the Gentlelady from North Carolina who, while not knowing what on earth assault weapons do, nevertheless, in the last election campaign, (her first for Congress, which she won), pridefully boasted her constituents' claim to every right in lieu to have those assaultive pieces of flame, those which kill your son, Mrs. y Monsieur--since they were, after all, largely of a hunting class, in need of going into the woods to stalk their next day's provender, every working day without fast, (with the V.P. upping their heads no doubt), and all being, equally doubtless, members of standing militias, en masse, maintained by the United States Government, alas.

And, we hear, this Gentlelady once taught college sociology somewhere, probably up 'er a' ASU. Obviously, however, in order to pass, they weren't required by the Lady to study the direct proportionality between possession of guns and breathing one's last, but only whether, in fact, the unstated, unsated part of the rhyme proves crass.

Enabling the pursuit of Happiness, however, is both her and her Party's mot, she tells us gleefully so fair. Such as her vote against her Party, one so rare, just two days ago when she voted, with her razors in the air, not to allow President Clinton's birthplace to be designated a National Historic Site, dear oh dear--Happiness oriented, as well she is, as also apt to stillbirth Hope in bi-partisan cooperation as well, 'tis fizzed, while sticking that tongue of pro-life liz.

Among her other rare Party bolts, which almost always of course coincide with motes in the eye of the other side of the aisle as well, on November 17 last, she felled, gave swell, and failed to cast to recognize the 60th anniversary of the disappearance of Flight 19 from our eyes in the Bermuda Triangle's hale vast-size pell-mell nursery hypotenuse fi's; probably the Gentlelady was out there in the Triangle, however, searching for it, thus disallowing her presence in the well that day, only a passing disjoint, cursory. For 'twas so usual that she voted with her Party, that once in awhile the exception proved her crafty, arty. She voted, once, for instance, not to authorize the Federal Youth Coordination Act; probably because she wanted all the youth in Winston to be uncoordinated, in fact. Likewise, she voted against her Party's position in favor of the Paul Simon Water for the Poor; she never liked his music anyway, back there in the one-room shack sans any Doors, no doubt, and, besides, they already built that Bridge over trouble during the Clinton years and look what happened, so sore--brought on all these Times without. She abstained from voting in support of her Party's position honoring Simon Wiesenthal and reaffirming Congress's fight against anti-Semitism; must be for her likewise stand to bring the 30,000 home from the 38th sun arisen so they might protect our porous Border to the South, the one poured through by such heathens lacking the Lady's faith and mouth. She voted against her Party's position for more emergency aid for victims of Hurricane Katrina eleven days after it; must have been those 9th Ward Blues she was seeing on her screen, before which she, like St. Helena and Liddy, too much seem to lean and sit. She voted against her Party's position favoring the Patient Safety and Quality Improvement bill; no doubt representing her interests back home where patience is safe and HMO's follily accrue, anent will. She abstained from voting with her Party in support of a national weekend of prayer for the victims of ethnic cleansing in Sudan's Darfur; hesitancy grown of her service to her tradition, kick them with invective ginseng, clue-Pan, for sure. And, finally, she abstained from voting with her Party in expressing condolences for the shooting at Red Lake High in Minnesota in April, 2005; on that one we may only leave it to your imagination's unruly fed sake to thrive in any lotah, or in anyone, after the Lady's will be had, left alive in those clubs of rota.

In short, the National Journal ranks her as more conservative than 91% of her Congressional colleagues; but take heart, liberals, for she is less conservative than fully 49 of the 535, en tota, making her the last remaining bulwark against return to the silver standard; do we contrive an iota? She was, she said, "humbled" by the position; humbled yes, but without contrition.

And, too, her campaign lit says this: She favors asylum loophole closings and establishing English as the official language of the U.S., with which we couldn't agree more; first test in the asylum shall be, let the Lady find Happiness in the Constitution, else be deported to Elsinore--si, si?

Moreover, we note, that rather than in the one-room cabin in the North Carolina mountains, to which she alluded within her House speech in rote the other day, she was born actually in New York City, in 1943, but far be it from us, the moon to bay, for true there is little difference, and so finally, poetically, the Lady may have something upon which to say--in fact perhaps her next bill should be for her own new one-horse stump-Lady WPA. For Abe went to Cooper Union and therein gave a speech; it got him to Washington, for you can't fool all the people with that bell-hood reach. The Lady, wethinks, has a way yet to go for that, but you never know; for they never said we of Spartania weren't a' times just a wee little more than bats.

In the end, we've nothing more to say; for that's close enough, NYC, for Groundhog Day; after all, because it's cold in both places sometimes in winter, sometimes in fall, even when Eric Satie's tears have bloodied Monty's hall.

But, one last thing, remember that catchy tune from yestermonth of yesteryear: Head in the skillet, fanny-face in the basin; if that ain't Grauntligne, Al bee danged if not a Mason--or something like that.

Also, this piece on juries from this date's page, which might serve as a template for what to do, in rage, with legislators of the same apparent capacity as that for which the test is designed to attenuate among jurors' inalacrity, lacking all sage.

But, alas, should it so become such to the extent indicated in the test, there would no doubt be howls and hisses from those amiss at least in some part of the Red State ranks in mist to the effect that, once again, Democrats are trying them to outwit and also unfairly them to exclude from office-holding with prickly-premised questions such as it enumerated under "(16)", where the obvious answer is "49%, only a little lean". Or, "(18)", which obviously involves trigonometry, and is therefore entirely unnecessary for any form of public service, equally as one of 435 as with one of twelve good and true, for any old shoe will do.

We must, however, say, as with each turn of the proverbial bolt, that lawyer Osborn's apparent choice of words for one of the proposed questions--"What is the longest time the jury in which you sat was in conference before a final verdict was reached or before final disagreement?"--leaves much to be desired in and for clarity's adverbial jolt. Were we to encounter it ever in some initial jury selection test, we might be tempted to render ourselves totally unfit, at best, for duty by responding that the tenses are tensed in such a way as to be unable to tell past from present, today from yesterday, we bet, and if what was meant by this mix of tension, is subliminal intent to tend us toward staying longer in the present than in any would-be past, then the questioner has most certainly failed intensely and might thus be called to a whip of his task. Not to mention that sitting in as opposed to on a jury suggests some sort of time-consuming demonstration of will for which we would be ill-prepared to participate, to acquit the Nazi Ast.

Also--should you wish, when called upon to be a member of a venire, a sure-fire way to shirk your citizen duty finally to have to serve, little deary, here's a tip: during voir dire, indicate forcefully and spontaneously, while assertively curling your lip qua hear, in response to an innocuous question about your employment, your solid support for the death penalty's full deployment--even if the case of your prospective service be civil, domestic, traffic, or relative imbelicility. Just beware that in so doing, what goes around might then come...with all that hooey light O'Reallity.

And, indeed, if one of the Gentlelady's ilk be presiding, you might be allowed to sit anyway, generis sui, a Foxxy congruity.

Hey, forgive us. It's Friday, it's A.C.C. Tourney time, and it's nearing the hour for the Spartans to begin to tickle the twine, outsmart the nets, do all those derring-do entrancing dances of yesteryear's fêtes. Which we call, Poetry in Motion. So see ye later; bring on them gators; keep on, in the canals of Washoe; for wethink we just espied down, from up there, some 40-point loss smarting Wahoos.

Slogan: Stumps, Dependents, Pace, and Change; don't let the Right know what the Left's a-doing, that is unless you're totally, completely and udderly insane.

Simple Solution to the Problem: Let them becomes lawyers.

How To Bar Oafs And Time-Servers Off Our Juries

Chattanooga Times

One perennial point of discussion between lawyers and layman the country over is the jury system, and particularly how members of juries can be selected so that justice can better be secured.

The February number of the Journal of the American Judicature Society contains an interesting article on the subject, written by Albert S. Osborn, noted New York lawyer. Mr. Osborn calls attention to a Pennsylvania trial last year in which, after the verdict was rendered, it was found that one of the jurors was a foreigner who could neither speak nor understand the English language. To prevent gross errors of this sort, he suggests that prospective jurors be subjected to certain rudimentary examinations by which it can be determined whether or not the talesman in question is obviously incompetent. While he does not propose the examination process as a sure means of the best selection, he does believe that proper tests "would at least exclude the obviously unfit."


Among other things, he would have the prospective jurors do the following:

Write out with pen and ink on letter-size paper, a continuous statement, signed and dated, giving your full name, your residence, street and number, city, county and state. Also state how long you have lived at your present residence and where you previously lived. Please also state where you were born (and when, if you see fit) giving town, city and state, and how far you went in school...

Please also state whether you have ever been a juror and if so, in how many different court sessions and on how many cases did you serve as a juror and when was the last time you acted as a juror. In how many cases in which you served did the jury reach a unanimous verdict? In how many cases did the jury disagree; how did the final votes stand and were you with the majority or the minority? What is the longest time the jury in which you sat was in conference before a final verdict was reached or before final disagreement?


In addition to this, Mr. Osborn would have a series of questions addressed to the juror, designed to test the extent of his education and general information. Here is one of the types of questions he has proposed:

(1) How many years in a century? (2) How many letters in the English alphabet? (3) What other states touch the state in which you live? (4) Name four domestic animals. (5) Name the capital of the United States. (6) What is one-third of 100? (7) Why is July 4th celebrated? (8) How much is 80 plus 40? (9) Name four different kinds of trees. (10) Name the human senses. (11) Draw a circle, a square, a triangle. (12) How many pounds in a ton? (13) What does threescore and ten mean? (14) What is an unanimous verdict? (15) Who was the first President of the United States? (16) How many more in a majority than in the minority? (17) What are the main points of the compass? (18) What is 1-3 of 1-4? (19) What are the names of the four seasons?

Commenting on this, Mr. Osborn declares that the prospective jurors' failure to answer any considerable number of twenty questions of this type would show a fundamental lack of knowledge and intelligence. "Such ignorance," he declares, "should prevent one from being put on the jury panel."

Right and Left Hands

Things in Washington just now don't make sense. There is much front-stage shouting about economy and much back-stage pregnant whispering about economy, and the President, Henry Morgenthau and John Hanes are certainly hatching up something in the line of tax relief for business.

But over on the Hill yesterday, Cotton Ed Smith beamed broadly and made no secret of his jubilation. The Senate Agricultural Committee had given a favorable report--unanimously, Cotton Ed said--to his bill which would offer cotton farmers a subsidy of as much as 5 cents a pound on this year's crop. The trade likes the Smith bill because it will have the effect of shunting cotton into the market instead of into Government warehouses, but witnesses before the committee predicted that it would cost $300,000,000 or more a year on top of other farm benefits. Cotton Ed swore the damages wouldn't exceed $100,000,000.

In either case, gents, $300,000,000 or $100,000,000, it is axiomatic that the only way the Government is ever going to start economizing is to stop appropriating. So don't get your hopes too high.

They Never Change

Senators Nye, Clark, Johnson and the Senate "neutrality" bloc generally remind us of the prohibitionists.

For many years it has been obvious on the face of things that the whole prohibition idea is a dismal flop--that it not only failed to work nationally and in the several states but also literally honeycombed the country with vice, crime, and corruption--created the most powerful underworld of modern times and subtly corroded in all classes the very moral standards its sponsors espoused.

So with the various neutrality laws dating from 1933. Far from keeping us neutral, these measures have made us an active party in (1) the destruction of international law through the denial to the legitimate Spanish Government of its sovereign rights; (2) the destruction of that government and the elevation of Franco; (3) the creation of serious trouble for ourselves in South America through this very victory of Franco; and (4) the hamstringing of China in favor of Japan, who if she ever becomes strong enough is virtually certain to make grief for our interests in the East.

But both prohibitionists and the "neutrality" bloc cling unshaken to their dogmas. And probably for essentially the same reasons in both cases: that to confess error and abandon their stand would be to admit their fallibility, something no human creature ever liked to do; and to give up the vested interests of their position--i.e., the honors, powers, prestige, and consideration the leaders enjoy at the hands of their clientele precisely because of their determined clinging to their dogmas.

The Pace Begins To Tell

One of the most encouraging news dispatches to come out of Italy in a long while is an innocent looking bulletin which has it that the Fascist employers' and workers' syndicates have agreed on a general pay increase for Italian workmen ranging from five to ten per cent. For what has really happened here, of course, is that Lord Mussolini has ordered them to agree to that.

And what that probably testifies to is that the Italian people are beginning to break under the strain of Italy's efforts to stay in the world armaments race. Mussolini has ordered this increase most reluctantly, you may be sure, for it means fewer battleships, airplanes, and guns. And he has done so only because he judges that the people are growing so restless that he dares not go on pretending that living costs have not been soaring. What is more still, the increased labor costs themselves will mean more increased living costs in the end.

And what is even more important, the increasing labor costs promise to play hob with the barter system under which Benito has been securing the foreign raw materials so necessary for carrying on his armament plans at all. For the whole secret of his success in that barter has been his ability to dump Italian goods at below world market prices--a practice which has obviously depended finally on the cheapness of Italian labor.

So Many Dependents

The Social Security Committee of the South Carolina Senate made public this week some findings transmitted to it by Governor Maybank--findings resulting from a study made of population groups in the state. They were: (1) that South Carolina "has the largest per cent of its population under 20 years of age than (sic) any other state," and (2) that it "has the smallest percentage of its population in the productive groups."

"The basic trouble is that... considering that all people under 20 and above 65... are dependents... South Carolina has 46.1 of its population to support the total, while the United States has 55.8 per cent, and the South Atlantic states 50.9 per cent. In this connection, it must be noted that 45.6 per cent of the population is colored... Recent studies have indicated that South Carolina, with only 0.5 per cent of the national income, has 1.86 per cent of the nation's children to rear and educate..."

There are some obvious holes in that report. Nobody who knows South Carolina will really suppose that people only 20 years of age and over 65 are always dependent there--or in the other Southern states. As a matter of fact, many thousands of youths are in the mills. And on the farms, nearly all children and all the aged who are not hopelessly invalided are "productive" for least part of the time. Furthermore, the report seems to suggest that South Carolina has a higher proportion of the aged than other states. But if the figures of the last United States census are still valid--and they almost certainly are--that is incorrect. Actually, South Carolina belongs among the twelve states for the lowest proportion of people over 55 years of age in the nation.

These things aside, however, the general contention set forth is supported by all the existing evidence--is indubitably sound. These facts, holding in one measure or another for all the Southern states, constitute one of the great fundamental reasons why the South is universally backward--why South Carolina ranks only above Mississippi in all the cultural indices, and why North Carolina is nearly always "Ol' 42"--why poverty and child labor and illiteracy and all sorts of other admitted evils flourish in these parts more abundantly than above the Potomac and the Ohio and in the West. They constitute no excuse for complacency before these evils, but they are necessary to any sound estimate of the South. And every sane social program, every sane piece of social legislation, must willy-nilly take them into account.

But what strikes us is this: the members of the South Carolina Legislature could have known all this at least three years ago. For it is all set down in Howard Odum's celebrated study, Southern Regions, which issued from the University of North Carolina Press in 1936. Plato's dream of the state in which philosophers should either be kings or kings should be philosophers is still a dream for Cloud-Cuckoo Land. But isn't it about time that legislators (and the South Carolina legislators are no worse than others, of course) began to realize that something more than a knowledge of the tricks of getting elected ought to be a part of their equipment for office? Some casual acquaintance with the salient facts about the people and the environment for which they have to legislate, for instance?

Those Aren't Stumps

If somebody in authority tells you you can't say it, that's censorship. If you decide on your own hook against saying it, that's either tact, discretion or self-restraint.

The taboo of the American Federation of Actors on WPA jokes--those aren't stumps; they're WPA workers--probably comes under the head of discretion. Many of its members are in the Federal Theater. But the fact that it was self-imposed doesn't mean necessarily that it was wisely imposed. To the contrary.

The tendency to belittle WPA, not to their faces but as a class, is typically American, with immensely valuable caustic properties. Once relief work, or, for that matter, a Government job, comes to be accepted as equally honorable with private employment the jig of individualism is up. It may be up anyhow, but there is no point in not having some fun out of the transition.


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