The Charlotte News
Thursday February 24, 1938
Site Ed. Note: The theme of "Batt'ries for Today's Game" fits, more or less, into the theme of a bit of wasted film we watched last night, a film from 2004, which we shall nevertheless endeavor, to salvage our wasted time watching it, to seek to turn into something less negative than it appears on its face, and try to make of it an affirmative statement--though the challenge to that end is daunting, and perhaps will be lost.
The bit of wasted film is titled, negatively enough, "Michael Moore Hates America", a title which like the smile existing latest in the otherwise disappearing Cheshire Cat, was extant early, before any film was shot--a bad enough way to start out with a "documentary" film--which this really isn't anyway, and so we won't dignify it too much with that rubric. Instead, we shall purvey it as a documentista film, something made by one of those thirtyish people, born in 1976--as we are informed biographically of the documentista's background at the outset of the film, for whatever useful reason--and hence of an age where the documentista-auteur apparently believes nothing much existed prior to Ronald Reagan's America, the America, perhaps, that the documentista-auteur sees as the object of Mr. Moore's hatred, an America consigned to see itself wrapped in the flag, rapt by the Star Bangled Banner, sloganeering in the vein, "Our country right or wrong and anyone who disagrees, be damned to hell as a traitor for saying so, even though we grant you that privilege as long as you don't expect us not to defame you for it," that patriotism, in other words, which consists of "tolerance" of the right to say things deemed "traitorous", but coupled only permissively, not by right, with the royal permit provider's coolly engaged ad hominem attacks on anyone who says anything in disagreement, i.e. and e.g., "Michael Moore Hates America".
So, the documentista-auteur takes us through a series of shifty vignettes which form a hodgepodge which says in the end exactly one thing, if it says cohesively anything: I may not agree with Michael Moore, but am damned proud to live in the U.S. of A. where you can disagree even if he better not take away my gun in saying it if he knows what's good for him, or knock my country's foreign policy, or my President, or my beer, or my favorite racecar driver, or he's liable to get him a lickin', 'cause he won't even come out and face the music and respond to my gentle indictment that he hates America and is therefore, by implication, a traitor to his country, and what's more, he hates himself, too, and is a liar! What's wrong with that, as long as I also say that I'm lying aplenty, too, and that just 'cause I called him a liar and a traitor is no reason to avoid me like Roger Smith did to him. Can't you see the parallels? And besides I say over and over again that I really don't think he hates America; it's just another way of lying to you to get your attention so's you'll watch my film. That's what I love about America: a sucker is born every minute.
Something like that, anyway.
A kind of Joe Sixpack view of the whole matter, couched in the deceptive chuck-on-the-shoulder passivity typical of Reaganites, who then stab savagely in the back their quarry, painting the target a liar and brigand, for any visceral disagreement on any issue near and dear to the heart of the Sixpacks' genealogy--guns, Chevys, trucks, global warming, war--right or wrong, abortion, religion, Bible in the schools, Republicans--well, the list goes on some, and without ever once--this is where it gets stupid--never once offering one single fact to back up the dispassionate parade of mud-slinging, merely insisting that through this edit or that edit of film or conversation, the end result was a "lie", or that the scene was constructed by Mr. Moore without the knowledge of all the participants--and even though any viewer of Mr. Moore's films with a brain with which to think understood those edits perfectly well while watching, and did not come away thinking in terms of any "lies" perpetrated by Mr. Moore on some unsuspecting dunderhead audience.
The examples we have of the supposed "lies" of Mr. Moore from documentista-auteur are only a few.
First, that in "Bowling for Columbine", Mr. Moore's comment and critique on the ease with which guns may be had in this country, the scene in which Mr. Moore humorously establishes his point by opening an account at a small bank and receiving in return a rifle, was ruthlessly constructed, says documentista, by Mr. Moore. The people at the bank contend now that Mr. Moore ambushed them with a plot, that he dastardly and cleverly ordered the gun in advance, insisting it be at the bank the day he brought his film crew in to film the segment; that normally the gun would have been shipped to a gun dealer for pick up by the customer. Also, they take umbrage at the fact that Mr. Moore wouldn't allow them to crack jokes with him, that he proclaimed that he was the documentarian and thus would crack the jokes. This, they think, was dark and bad. Moreover, that the five hundred guns the bank has in its vault reserved for new-account customers are not in the branch Mr. Moore visited, but rather in the main headquarters of the bank 300 miles away, another shifty-eyed deception of the notorious Faker, Moore, el bandido del banco. And, finally, that Mr. Moore told them that he was doing a documentary on unusual businesses, not that he was doing a documentary about easy access to guns. So, rather than get some free advertising of their guns-for-new-accounts policy, why, they became a laughing stock.
Nevertheless, in all of this silly carping over nothing, the central fact goes unchallenged: for opening an account at this silly bank, the new customer received a rifle, as if the two naturally should go hand in hand--undoubtedly to convey that this insanely run bank is so lacking in security that the average customer would be better off keeping his money at home under keep by his gun.
And as example of the ease with which guns may be acquired, we took it at the time of viewing the scene, was precisely the whole point, not whether the teller was cut off from having some rejoinder quip to Mr. Moore's dry sense of the absurd.
Moreover, it was simply a visual illustration, humorously performed, regarding a fact which everyone knows to be true--that guns may be had with facile ease in this country, regardless of gun control. There was no deception, no plot by Mr. Moore to skew the facts. No one seeing that scene went away saying to themselves that, gee, one can even get a gun by opening an account at any bank in the country; ain't that a kick in the pants.
So, how was there any deception in the scene, really, Mr. Documentista-auteur?
Second, he takes us to see a soldier who lost both arms while serving in Iraq, a soldier who was presented incidentally in "Fahrenheit 9-11" from within a segment originally presented on NBC news. Again, the segment of film itself is understood by the viewer as not part of the documentary, as the interviewer of the soldier is the NBC news anchor, not Mr. Moore, and is plainly meant to serve merely as an illustration of the tragic results of war, in particular the present war in Iraq. There is no claim about this particular soldier. But, documentista seeks to exploit this presentation by suggesting Mr. Moore exploited the soldier without his advance knowledge or permission to be in "Fahrenheit 9-11"--and presents the soldier now objecting to his image being thus co-opted, that he never felt "left behind" as Mr. Moore's voice-over narration made it seem to him he was portrayed. Again, however, the matter is not one of deception or exploitation by Mr. Moore. Mr. Moore did not say "this soldier is left behind", but rather that soldiers are being left behind without proper care in an overburdened, understaffed V.A. system--again a well-known fact published for years in many places besides Michael Moore's film.
Third, the policy of the Administration is never once sought to be defended directly by documentista, even though implicitly he takes umbrage at Moore's anti-Administration politics. Documentista-auteur simply shows, as impliedly simply simple as anyone may simply make it appear, that we are a free democracy--by showing us that, after all is said and done in criticism of our country and its absurd paranoia about security, a group of middle-aged men can go out in the barricaded street in front of the White House and play street hockey. Documentista-auteur finds this simple fact so emblematic of freedom that it alone suffices to debunk any comers who might heretically and traitorously suggest that there has been any loss of freedom in the country under the present Administration.
Well, why didn't we think of that? Gee, we bet you couldn't play street hockey in front of Berchtesgaden in 1938. That is the acid test between us and them: to be, unmolested by the police, left to play street hockey or not left unmolested to play street hockey. Hmmm. Wonder if they would allow a little baseball on Lafayette Square? How about a little swing of the old #3 wood? Fore...
Fourth, by way of some glancing blow to Mr. Moore's patriotism in his daring to compare our America with Canada, documentista-auteur tells us, entirely anecdotally, save for one statistic which we shall examine momentarily, that the portrait Moore thus presents of Canada is false vis à vis the United States in terms of the prevalence of crime (this film having been made in 2004, before "Sicko" and the unfavorable comparisons therein between their and our health care systems). Documentista-auteur begins, after chatting with some elderly gentleman on a porch about the high crime rate abounding in this particular metropolis in Canada, by taking issue with Mr. Moore's claim that Canadians live with their doors unlocked; so, to prove his point, he goes door to door, testing the doorknobs, in an urban neighborhood of row-houses, and finds that four out of five are locked in broad daylight. Thus, Mr. Moore's similar walk around, finding most doors open, was just another example of Moore's Big Lie, and more stark evidence that Moore hates America.
All of this, documentista-auteur claims by way of telling us that Canada actually has twice as much crime as the United States, that is 200%--er, make that 100%--more crime.
But that is simply not only untrue, but the obverse of the truth. The FBI crime statistics for 2004 show that there were 5.5 murders and non-negligent homicides per 100,000 population in the United States, 5.6 in 2005; 463.2 violent crimes per 100,000 in 2004, 469.2 in 2005; 3,514.1 property crimes per 100,000 in 2004, 3,429.8 in 2005.
Meanwhile, in 2005, Canada's murder and non-negligent homicide rate, by contrast, was only 2.0 per 100,000, with a maximum among its provinces of 4.3 in Saskatchewan. The rate of aggravated assaults was 85% lower than in the United States, and 59% lower for robbery.
It is true that the rate of breaking and entering in Canada is actually 18% higher than in the United States, and that automobile thefts are 26% higher, while thefts of property worth less than $5,000 is 9% lower in Canada.
But most people do not have their cars stolen, or have their houses or businesses broken into, at gunpoint--which was the whole point of Mr. Moore's comparison of crime rates between Canada and the United States in "Bowling for Columbine", the subject there being guns and gun-related deaths and maimings, not crime in general, though obviously fear of crime driving gun ownership was an underlying theme. Indeed, if property related crimes are a little higher in Canada, why shouldn't Canadians be more armed than their counterparts down south? (Oh goodness, we begin to sound like that traitorous, America-hating Mr. Moore.)
So and therefore, you loudly boom, population and population density, statistical swine, look at that--for, after all, in that vast expanse to the north, including polar regions, there are only a piddling 30 million people, compared to our nearly 300 million! How are we supposed to live, so crammed together, without guns to ward off each other, measly, mealy-mouthed, wimpy statistical freak!?
Reasonable and sensible inquiry, we reply.
But, nevertheless: Toronto, as of 2005, with about 5.3 million people to its credit, had a homicide rate in 2004 of 1.8; Montreal, 3.6 million, had a rate of 1.7 homicides per 100,000 (a drop from 3.4 in 1990); Vancouver, at 2.2 million, had a rate of 2.6 homicides, a drop from 3.45 in 1990; Ottawa, at 1.15 million, had 1.1; Calgary, at about a million, had 1.9; Edmonton, also at a million population, had the second highest rate among the more populous cities, at 3.4; Quebec, at 700,000, had .8 homicides per 100,000, meaning, in absolute numbers, 6; Hamilton, also at 700,000, had a rate of 1.3; Winnipeg, 700,000, had the highest rate among the cities over 500,000, at 4.9, still and all, in absolute numbers, 34 homicides; London, at 450,000, had a rate of 1.1, (Regina, with a rate of 5.5, being the highest among cities of between 100,000 and 500,000 population).
By contrast, in the ten largest cities in the United States in the year 2002: New York, at about 8 million, had 7.4 homicides per 100,000; Los Angeles, at about 3.7 million, 13.4; Chicago, at about 2.8 million, 20.6; Houston, two million, 13.6; Philadelphia, 1.5 million, 23.3; Phoenix, 1.4 million, 17.2; San Antonio, 1.2 million, 7; San Diego, 1.2 million, 5.1; Dallas, 1.2 million, 18.4; San Jose, 900,000, had a rate of 3.2 per 100,000. The highest rates for large cities and metropolitan areas were: New Orleans, with 57.7 per 100,000; Washington, 44; Baltimore, 41.9; Detroit, 39.4; and Atlanta at 34.3; the rate then dropping off sharply to the next in order, Philadelphia's 23.3.
Charlotte, for instance, at about 600,000, had a rate of 9.9; San Francisco, by contrast, at about 750,000, and with a strict gun control law in place for some 30 years, had a rate of 8.9.
Viewing the other categories of violent crime, one would find the same general pattern between populous cities in Canada and those in the United States. Thus, we are sorry to report, the facts betray not that density of population accounts for the difference in rates, but some other factor, rendering America as being generally substantially more violent than Canada.
A 1996 study, for instance, found that 21.6% of all Canadian households had one or more guns; by contrast, the same study found that in the United States, 48.55% of all households had one or more guns. That means that the gun ownership rate in the U.S. is about two and a half times that of Canada, and-- But there we go again, juxtaposing facts to suggest some relationship between gun ownership and the murder rate. Darn us.
In any event, count us among the majority of American households who tend toward the Canadian approach--(but, take little comfort in that, for if you break into our house, we do have a very large sword awaiting your highness).
So, the truth is that one is nearly three times as likely to be the victim of a homicide in the United States, nearly twice as likely to be the victim of an aggravated assault, over half again as likely to be the victim of a robbery, while a little less likely to have a breaking and entering and a quarter less likely to have one's car stolen, than in Canada.
So, who is lying? And whose "skewing" the facts, as documentista-auteur charges Mr. Moore repeatedly of doing, is the more material between them?
Who hates America, the sugar-coater, jellybean popper, full of glossy statements which only perpetuate cruel myths and make everyone feel goosey-down glowing and nice, but nevertheless dodges reality while people are being shot, assaulted and robbed at gunpoints made readily available at gunshows and through mail-order houses, or Mr. Moore who presents that less palatable side of the country and a plain palliative with it, stricter gun legislation?
Fifth and finally, documentista-auteur presents, elaborately, evidence that Mr. Moore spliced together two speeches of Moses to the NRA, to deliver one fragmented point, that Moses was callous in the wake of Columbine's tragedy on April 20, 1999, suggesting that the NRA thoughtlessly proceeded in having its annual convention in nearby Denver two weeks after Columbine.
But, again, without belaboring it, or the insensitivity of this sterile and idiotic presentation, the point of Mr. Moore was that Moses held up his rifle and said gloriously to the cheering maniacs: "From my cold, dead hands," and that at some other time he appeared shortly after the Columbine shootings at another NRA meeting in Denver. The point was not about film editing. Whether the statement of Moses occurred a year later, as apparently it did, in Charlotte, or in Denver in 1999, was not the point being made by Mr. Moore. That such a well-known figure as Mr. Heston showed up at an NRA meeting in Denver two weeks after Columbine, does convey his callousness to the victims, regardless of what he said at that particular meeting--if it was other than "I'm sorry I am here and I am sorry for the victims; I renounce the use of guns" and heroically walked out, lending his celebrity to compassion rather than continuing insanity--which he obviously did not do.
By way of explanation of this faux pas in unfortunate scheduling by the NRA, an attorney is presented by documentista-auteur, an attorney sitting in front of a book on the NRA, an attorney who offers up a psychological profile of Mr. Moore as a self-loathing, egoistic narcissist, with documentista's full cut-away support, via presentation of isolated statements of Mr. Moore, on their face confirming the attorney's self-professed diagnosis of this condition--a complex into which documentista-auteur plainly falls as well, with his injected autobiographical information completely unnecessary to the documentary, and his self-effacing comments as well as pride-preserving brag at times thrown in for good measure--an attorney who tells us in excruciatingly painstaking detail that the NRA by-laws, drawn up under New York state law, provide for mandatory ten-days notice for any change in venue of an annual meeting, and that there was therefore inadequate time for such notice after the Columbine tragedy to enable such a change.
But if we are to be told with a straight face that the NRA's annual national meeting venue and time must occur as scheduled, absent ten days notice of the change, come hell, high water, rainstorm, hurricane, national emergency, or general massacre, then we are obviously confronted with such a closely bounded, inflexible, myopic, and foolishly consistent hobgoblin mentality that indeed they appear quite dangerously insane. Please don't tell us that the NRA could not send out a notice of postponement for thirty days or what have you and change their meeting under the prevailing circumstances. Are the members robots who cannot change their plans an iota to accommodate the feelings of others? This "defense" of the NRA turns out quite as telling of their mindless madness and insensitivity as the very fact of the event itself.
The attorney also meretriciously offers up that one of the techniques of modern propagandists is always to tell the truth so they don't get caught in a lie. Hmmm. We didn't know that. So, by logical deduction, we assume that counter-propaganda to this type of "truthful" propaganda would have to go under the rubric, well, what else: the Big Lie. We think that sort of thinking actually derives from Mein Kampf, but never mind that; that was all years ago.
Well, that's about it for documentista. Auteur winds up smiling into the camera in beguiling narcissistic close-up, worthy almost of Norma Desmond, suggesting that what he finds really, really great about America is that we are free to disagree, and, apparently, in his thinking anyway, lie about others, proclaiming them liars, all the while practicing the very tactics openly that he accuses Mr. Moore of using. But, as they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
And, taking his cue from a well-known magician, who appears for reasons unknown several times in documentista's piece, glibly offering, as we glean from it all anyway, that it is okay to lie as long as you eventually confess the lie to your audience--. So, for instance, when documentista misrepresents his own documentary's purpose to the city manager of Mr. Moore's hometown, a suburb of Flint, not Flint, he decides eventually to confess his sin in a letter and offer both an apology and agreement not to use the footage without the consent of the gentleman, who said nothing at all against Mr. Moore in the first place, but merely commented on him being from that particular town. The whole stunt is superficial and unnecessary to the film, even boring, but sets up documentista-auteur nicely in the light of the average liar in America who believes it okay to lie as long as eventually, no matter the damage done by the lie, one admits it and apologizes for it in the end.
Here we have a central theme throughout the documentista, the aspect of America which, no doubt, Mr. Moore might actually hate.
If you cannot tell from this bit of probably wasted print what the probably wasted film is all about, you are not alone. As we said at the outset, while propping our eyelids for the interminable time it took to get through this thing, we haven't the foggiest as to what this hodgepodge meant in its totality either, only that whatever it was trying to say, it was poorly executed and never offered a shred of evidence to back up anything except the astounding revelation that Michael Moore is guilty of editing his films, and that they are not shot continuously in real time.
But we won't leave the subject without one comment on something which we found genuinely offensive and delivered in such a passive manner that the filmmaker did not even appear aware of just how offensive it was, perhaps due to the auteur's relative youth, having been born after the 1960's. He presents a woman from the NRA who cavils that Mr. Moore improperly juxtaposed the year of the founding of the Ku Klux Klan with that of the same year of the NRA, as if the two were related--though she admits "Bowling for Columbine" does not suggest that. Then "Michael Moore Hates America" presents images of John and Robert Kennedy, both with tags beneath them, saying, "Member of the NRA", along with a few other well-known faces, including some African-Americans, after which the suggestion is sardonically put that these NRA members, doubtless, would not be welcome as members of the Ku Klux Klan.
And, indeed, when we look up NRA's Institute for Legislative Action on the internet, we find that its "Facts Sheet" begins this way:
"The first semi-automatic rifle, a Mannlicher, was introduced in 1885; the first semi-automatic pistol, a Schonberger, in 1892; and John Browning patented his famous Auto-5 semi-automatic shotgun in 1900. President John F. Kennedy, an NRA Life Member, owned an M1, a semi-automatic rifle used by the U.S. Armed Forces during World War II and the Korean War, and owned by hundreds of thousands of competitive target shooters and collectors today."
Besides demonstrating ridiculously insensitive taste in its presentation of "facts", we suspect that the alleged lifetime membership was an honorary one, much as Presidents have conferred on them various honorary memberships, and that the M1, assuming its existence at all, was a war relic of some sort or a gift, not something used regularly by the President at the White House firing range. Moreover, we cannot recall a single statement, and a search of the John F. Kennedy Library website shows none, wherein President Kennedy ever mentioned the NRA or even slightly or obliquely advocated the right to bear arms or urged the citizenry, even in the most individually perilous time the country had witnessed since World War II, the thirteen days of the Cuban missile crisis, to take up personal arms even in defense of family and home.
This bit of gratuitous digression in the film, and the concomitant reference at the NRA's website, are but little more, therefore, than comprising an outrageous absurdity, emblematic of this group's, and this filmmaker's, outrageous tactics in dissembling; for the NRA to brandish such a notion, whether technically true or not, shows such poor public taste as to represent perfectly their general lack of judgment in matters, and their general irresponsibility to the public.
The brutal gunfire which took the life of President Kennedy in 1963, to anyone who remembers those days, still resounds loudly in the mind, as does that which ended the lives of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy less than five years later. And those facts ought register enough in the awareness of any person, regardless of age, to afford the notion that the above statement is outrageous to dignity and conveys nothing except the brutality of the organization adopting it as their own primary fact, one so blinded by its own propagandistic ends, one so grasping desperately at straws to bolster its faltering image amid the lunatic gunfire prevailing in the country, that it cannot even discern responsible judgment in promoting itself.
It would be one thing if the present day Kennedy family members in politics supported the NRA, but of course the truth is quite the converse.
The only mention we find at the Kennedy Library site, incidentally, regarding anything Robert Kennedy ever said publicly with regard to guns, is in the context of a speech he gave at the University of Kansas, March 18, 1968, 17 days before Reverend King was assassinated. Though we've heard it said that you can't go back to Kansas, his words on that occasion, as usually they do, provide still the intense ring of rationality, to focus attention on hope and progress, to eliminate despair and violence, and the chaos of poverty. They are words, the spirit of which is worth remembering:
But even if we act to erase material poverty, there is another greater task; it is to confront the poverty of satisfaction--purpose and dignity--that afflicts us all. Too much and for too long, we seem to have surrendered personal excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things. Our Gross National Product, now, is over $800 billion dollars a year, but that Gross National Product--if we judge the United States of America by that--that Gross National Product counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for the people who break them. It counts the destruction of the redwood and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and counts nuclear warheads and armored cars for the police to fight the riots in our cities. It counts [Charles] Whitman's rifle and [Richard] Speck's knife. And the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children.
Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. And it can tell us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans.
While we don't know it to be so, given that which we have heard Mr. Moore utter, we would guess that this statement suggests values akin to those embodied within the America he cherishes, one which cares for its citizens, and not merely coldly how much it costs to provide indispensable services to them, one which nourishes leaders among its citizens who voice those values, not shoots them down in cold blood or spews bile at them and labels them liars for daring to espouse them--even if the shooting and spewing are accomplished with a smile and a glad hand.
So, if that latter represents the America you hate, Mr. Moore, we join you in it. If you would rather engage in ideas and argument over ideas, be they conveyed statistically, anecdotally, ironically, or by way of humorous diatribe, than engage yourself in personal invective, blatant lies, inversion of truth to fit your ends, nit-picking form over substance, all to state an obvious, but unstated underlying assumption fundamentally at odds with the true meaning and spirit of the Constitution, and over matters where not merely abstractions are at stake and debating points the primary target, but human lives and the betterment of our society ultimately the precious booty of the dangerous piracy you propose, then we support your brand of "hate" and "lies", and even also of your stealing of the heart and mind, if you can, of any youth who might otherwise wind up breathlessly frothing blood while clutching in their cool, dying hand nothing more substantive than the inarticulable chasm expressed by the last frozen wilderness left between the emptying cylinders of a gun.
Incidentally, documentista-auteur fails conveniently to point out that Mr. Moore himself admits in "Bowling for Columbine" to being a lifetime member of the NRA, and to having owned and used guns while growing up. But that's not a lie, we take it--just a convenient editing of the truth.
In any event, though we could think of a digit or two to raise in expression of our opinion anent this celluloid nonsense, they would inevitably not be our thumbs. But, as Moses once accused Ramsey Clark on Dick Cavett, circa 1972, perhaps what we are saying, sir or madame, is dangerous. So, we shall just hush our mouth.
Anyway, don't mind us; we're just traveling in a fried-out Kombi, through the land down under.
The rest of the page is here.
Here We Go Again*
Like some watcher of an automobile mileage recorder when a new digit clicks into view, followers of the daily United States Treasury report have an experience in store for them today. The 9 in the ninth column to the left of the decimal point in the year's deficit has given way to a 0, while in the tenth column a 1 has appeared.
This is just another way of saying that the excess of expenditures over receipts since July 1 has finally cracked a billion. Not in a sudden fit of profligacy was this feat performed, but rather by steady, persistent, determined day-by-day spending of more than came in, such as today's Treasury report records:
What makes it all the more a marvel of indomitability is that this is the eighth successive year of deficits. Almost any administration, even Mr. Hoover's, could overspend for a year or a couple of years, but for the eighth time in succession...
Batt'ries for Today's Game
In the beginning of this latest effort to liberalize the Blue Laws, it looked as though it were merely a move to accommodate the baseball club, and that no factionalism was involved. But with yesterday's Council session, abortive to the liberalizing amendment, old, familiar lines began to form, fundamental divisions to show up. In fine, Mr. Robert Lassiter appeared to put in a word for the pros, and Mrs. W. B. Lindsay went into battle formation for the antis.
Mrs. Lindsay and Mr. Lassiter, it seems, are inevitable opponents. It has got so that each is a symbol of what the other doesn't stand for. They have fought it out all the way from Dan to Beersheba and back again. They have met on uncommon ground in committee rooms in the capitol at Raleigh, usually over drinks, if we may use that figure of speech, and they have returned to continue the argument as it extended to Mecklenburg.
Surely both Mrs. Lindsay and Mr. Lassiter, when they perceived each other in the Council chamber yesterday afternoon, must have said to themselves, Well, here we are again. The funny thing about it is that neither is fighting the other for the vestige of personal gain or aggrandizement. Mr. Lassiter simply believes that Mrs. Lindsay hasn't any right to dictate to people how they must behave, and Mrs. Lindsay ardently believes that she has.
The Immoral Aliens
This charge that the aliens among us are a wicked lot "morally," and that they are turning us decadent, is a common one. Bob Reynolds is constantly harping on the theme. But how does it hold up against facts? Well, murder, we think has something to do with morals. And if so--.
New England is overrun with foreigners, Massachusetts alone having over a million Irish, Poles, Hunkies, Wops, French Canadians, etc. And it is in the Middle Atlantic States that the greatest concentration of foreigners in the United States is found. On the other hand, as everyone knows, there are very few foreigners in the South Atlantic States, to which group we belong. Nevertheless, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, New England last year had a murder rate of only 1.46 per 100,000 people in all towns with more than 10,000 people; the Middle Atlantic States had one of only 3.6; but these South Atlantic States had a murder rate of 15.1!
And if that isn't enough: Bethlehem, Pa., populated almost entirely by foreigners who work in the steel mills, had two murders out of 60,000 people; the great bad city of New York, with 3,000,000 of its 7,000,000 people made up of foreigners, had 331, or about 4.5 per 100,000; but the two great capitals of simon-pure Anglo-Saxonism, Atlanta and our own Charlotte, had respectively, 46 and 40 per 100,000!
Bombs Over Formosa
The natural human reaction when one reads the huge black type proclaiming, "Chinese Bomb Two Jap Cities," is to cry, "Good! Now the swine are having a taste of their own medicine!"
But it is only the proprioceptive nervous system, the old primitive animal emotion, which thus cries out. In the cerebrum, the great development of which alone distinguishes the brain of man from that of the gorilla--in the cerebrum, so far as it has been civilized, doubt must arise. One may record, indeed, that if it had been true that Formosan women and children were killed by the Chinese bombers, the Japanese Government's yells about "inhumanity" would still have been merely ridiculous.
But what about the Formosan women and children themselves? Do you suppose they had any part in the Japanese Government's decision to rape China? or that they so much as know that Japanese bombers are murdering Chinese women and children daily? Does one murder justify another murder? And do you suppose that the killing of Formosan women and children is going to have the slightest effect on the Japanese Government? It may be said at once that it won't. It wouldn't in any case, for the case of Spain has shown clearly that the bombing of civilian populations simply stiffens rather than destroys their morale. And--ironically enough, more than nine-tenths of the population of Formosa is made up of Chinese!
Mr. McNutt Demands
Paul V. McNutt, former Dean of the University of Indiana Law School, former Governor of Indiana, and currently High Commissioner of the Philippines, has been barnstorming across the country from the West Coast to Washington by way of keeping himself well in the limelight for the Democratic Presidential nomination in 1940. And in California, finding himself late for an engagement at Denver, he descended upon Hamilton Field and demanded transportation by Army plane. The colonel in charge dared not refuse, and as a result has been disciplined.
What interests us in this case is that McNutt "demanded." As we get it, the only civilian officials who have any right to demand transportation in the military conveyances of the nation are the President and the Secretaries of War and the Navy. This Mr. McNutt, whom they used to call the "Hoosier Hitler" when he was Governor of Indiana, is represented as being confident that destiny has ordained that he shall presently be President--but he hasn't got there yet, and it might be well if he were pointedly reminded of the fact by the man who is President and who gave him his present job. But we haven't a notion that he will be, for Mr. McNutt, in addition to being Duke of the Philippines, is still very much the Big Democratic Boss of Indiana.
Taps for a Fancy
The last great bulwark of our determined belief that, after all, it was eminently probable that the pirates of Penzance did end up by marrying the daughters of the Admiral, is gone. They've abolished the horse marines at Shanghai. And so long as the horse marines continued to exist in the flesh, anything was manifestly possible.
Back in 1901, Clyde Fitch's "Captain Jenks," which ran on Broadway for 102 nights with Ethel Barrymore in the stellar feminine role, had all America singing:
I'm Captain Jenks of the Horse Marines,
I feed my horse on corn and beans,
And sport young ladies in their 'teens.
Though a Captain in the Army!
I teach young ladies how to dance,
How to dance, how to dance,
I teach young ladies how to dance,
For I'm the pet of the Army!
I'm Captain Jenks of the Horse Marines,
I feed my horse on corn and beans,
I often live beyond my means,
Though a captain in the Army!
The song was not Fitch's, nor, perhaps, was it even that of the obscure Mr. Pratt to whom it is sometimes assigned. Rather, it seems to have been an ancient Army ditty, in use both in England and the United States. And practically everybody thought it was merely a marvelous piece of nonsense. But actually, if there had not been horse marines before that, there were nevertheless to be horse marines from 1912 down to the present--those that our Government maintained at Shanghai. To be sure, they did not really go down to the sea in ships--to do battle on horseback. They only rode out, very splendid in uniform, to make way for the American Ambassador. Still, there they were, and so long as they existed--ah, now, what are we going to do without our faith in the Cheshire Cat?
Site Ed. Note: The rest of the little traditional army ditty, sometimes under the spelling "Jinks", goes:
I joined the Corps when twenty-one
Of course I thought it capital fun
When the enemy comes, of course I run
For I'm not cut out for the Army.
When I left home, mamma she cried
Mamma she cried, mamma she cried,
When I left home, mamma she cried,
"He's not cut out for the Army."
The first time I went out for drill
The bugler sounding made me ill
Of the battlefield I'd had my fill
For I'm not cut out for the Army,
The officers, they all did shout
They all did shout, they all did shout,
The officers, they all did shout,
"Why, kick him out of the Army!"
And, in his first novel, Vivian Grey, published 1827, Benjamin Disraeli set forth the following:
It was a splendid day. The bands of the respective regiments played triumphant tunes as each marched on the field. The gradual arrival of the troops was picturesque. Distant music was heard, and a corps of Infantry soon made its appearance. A light bugle sounded, and a body of Tirailleurs issued from the shade of a neighbouring wood. The kettle-drums and clarions heralded the presence of a troop of Cavalry; and an advanced guard of Light Horse told that the Artillery were about to follow. The arms and standards of the troops shone in the sun; military music sounded in all parts of the field; unceasing was the bellow of the martial drum and the blast of the blood-stirring trumpet. Clouds of dust ever and anon excited in the distance denoted the arrival of a regiment of Cavalry. Even now one approaches; it is the Red Lancers. How gracefully their Colonel, the young Count of Eberstein, bounds on his barb! Has Theseus turned Centaur? His spur and bridle seem rather the emblems of sovereignty than the instruments of government: he neither chastises nor directs. The rider moves without motion, and the horse judges without guidance. It would seem that the man had borrowed the beast's body, and the beast the man's mind. His regiment has formed upon the field, their stout lances erected like a young and leafless grove; but although now in line, it is with difficulty that they can subject the spirit of their warlike steeds. The trumpet has caught the ear of the horses; they stand with open nostrils, already breathing war ere they can see an enemy; and now dashing up one leg, and now the other, they seem to complain of Nature that she has made them of anything earthly.
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