E-MAIL US    

T H E  P R O G R E S S I V E  R E V I E W  

Recovered history
News items from the Review

Atomic bombs



Wikipedia - A boycott is a form of consumer activism involving the act of voluntarily abstaining from using, buying, or dealing with someone or some other organization as an expression of protest, usually of political reasons.

Although the term itself was not coined until 1880, the practice dates back to at least 1830, when the National Negro Convention encouraged a boycott of slave-produced goods. Other instances of boycotts are their use by African Americans during the US civil rights movement (notably the Montgomery Bus Boycott); the United Farm Workers union grape and lettuce boycotts; the American boycott of British goods at the time of the American Revolution; the Indian boycott of British goods organized by Mohandas Gandhi; the successful Jewish boycott organized against Henry Ford in the USA, in the 1920s; the boycott of Japanese products in China after the May Fourth Movement; the Jewish anti-Nazi boycott of German goods in Lithuania, the USA, Britain and Poland during 1933. . .

Boycotts are now much easier to successfully initiate due to the Internet. Examples include the gay and lesbian boycott of advertisers of the Dr. Laura talk show, gun owners' similar boycott of advertisers of Rosie O'Donnell's talk show and (later) magazine, and gun owners' boycott of Smith & Wesson following that company's March 2000 settlement with the Clinton administration. They may be initiated very easily using either Web sites (the Dr. Laura boycott), newsgroups (the Rosie O'Donnell boycotts), or even mailing lists. Internet-initiated boycotts "snowball" very quickly compared to other forms of organization.

Another form of consumer boycotting is substitution for an equivalent product; for example, Mecca Cola and Qibla Cola have been marketed as substitutes for Coca-Cola among Muslim populations.

Academic boycotts have been organized against countries. For example, the mid and late 20th century academic boycotts of South Africa in protest of apartheid practices and the less successful but more recent academic boycotts of Israel.

Some boycotts center on particular businesses, such as recent protests regarding Costco, Walmart, Ford Motor Company, or the diverse products of Philip Morris. Another form of boycott identifies a number of different companies involved in a particular issue, such as the Sudan Divestment campaign, the Boycott Bush campaign. The Boycott Bush website was set up by Ethical Consumer after U.S. President George W. Bush failed to ratify the Kyoto Protocol - the website identifies Bush's corporate funders and the brands and products they produce. . .

Boycotts are unquestionably legal under the common law. The right to engage in commerce, social intercourse, and friendship implies the right not to engage in commerce, social intercourse, and friendship; since a boycott is voluntary and nonviolent, it is unable to be stopped by the law. Opponents of boycotts historically have the choice of suffering under it, yielding to its demands, or attempting to suppress it through extralegal means, such as force and coercion.

Chicago Ten


PAUL KRASSNER, LA TIMES - In 1967, Abbie Hoffman, his wife Anita and I took a work-vacation in Florida, renting a little house on stilts in Ramrod Key. We had planned to see "The Professionals." "That's my favorite movie," Abbie said. "Burt Lancaster and Lee Marvin develop this tight bond while they're both fighting in the Mexican revolution, then they drift apart." But it was playing too far away, and a hurricane was brewing, so instead we saw the Dino Di Laurentiis version of "The Bible."

Driving home in the rain and wind, we debated the implications of Abraham being prepared to slay his son because God told him to. I dismissed this as blind obedience. Abbie praised it as revolutionary trust. This was the week before Christmas. We had bought a small tree and spray-painted it with canned snow. Now, we were tripping on LSD as the hurricane reached full force. "Hey," Abbie yelled over the roar, "this is powerful [bleepin'] acid!"

We watched Lyndon Johnson on a black-and-white TV set, although LBJ was purple-and-orange. His huge head was sculpted into Mount Rushmore. "I am not going to be so pudding-headed as to stop our half of the war," he was saying, and the heads of the other presidents were all snickering to themselves and covering their mouths with their hands so they wouldn't laugh out loud.
This was the precise moment we acknowledged that we'd be going to the Democratic convention in August to protest the Vietnam war. I called Jerry Rubin in New York to arrange for a meeting. On the afternoon of December 31, several activist friends gathered at the Hoffmans' Lower East Side apartment, smoking Colombian marijuana and planning for Chicago.

Our fantasy was to counter the convention of death with a festival of life. While the Democrats would present politicians giving speeches at the convention center, we would present rock bands playing in the park. There would be booths with information about drugs and alternatives to the draft. We sought to utilize the media as an organizing tool, but we needed a name so that journalists could have a "who" for their "who-what-when-where-and-why" lead paragraph. . .

I came up with Yippie as a label for a phenomenon that already existed, an organic coalition of psychedelic hippies and political activists. In the process of cross-fertilization at antiwar demonstrations, we had come to share an awareness that there was a linear connection between putting kids in prison for smoking pot in this country and burning them to death with napalm on the other side of the planet. It was the ultimate extension of dehumanization. And so we held a press conference.

A reporter asked me, "What happens to the Yippies when the Vietnam war ends?" I replied, "We'll do what the March of Dimes did when a cure for polio was discovered; we'll just switch to birth defects." But our nefarious scheme worked. The headline in the Chicago Sun-Times read, "Yipes! The Yippies Are Coming!" What would later happen at the convention led to the infamous trial for crossing state lines to foment riot. . .

I got a call from director Brett Morgen, who was working on a documentary about the 1960s antiwar movement. It would have no narrator and no talking heads, only archival footage and animated re-enactments based on actual events and transcriptions of trial testimony. However, Allen Ginsberg levitating during meditation can be construed as cartoonic license. Brett invited me to write four specific animated scenes. . .

Although Brett "loved, loved, loved" the scenes I wrote, the backers objected to the use of LSD, fearful of diverting attention from the main focus of the film. I was disappointed, if only for the sake of countercultural history. The CIA originally envisioned employing LSD as a means of control; instead, for millions of young people, LSD served as a vehicle to explore their own inner space, deprogramming themselves from mainstream culture and living their alternative. The CIA's scenario had backfired. Anyway, my suggestion--instead of referring to it as acid, Abbie could yell, "Hey, this is powerful [bleepin'] aspirin"--was rejected. Thus, the hurricane, which was originally going to open the film, has been omitted, but of course it'll be on the DVD. . . .

Brett's goal isn't that ambitious, but when he called to tell me that "Chicago 10" had been selected to open the Sundance Film Festival, he said, "Wouldn't it be great if Abbie's legacy turns out to be that he helped to end the war in Iraq?" I hadn't seen any of the rough cuts and didn't know what to expect at the festival screening. Well, I loved, loved, loved it. Brett got a standing ovation. Although he was born two months after the protests in Chicago, he has managed--with the determination of a salmon swimming upstream to spawn, aided by 180 hours of film, 50 hours of video, 500 hours of audio and 23,000 pages of trial transcripts--to reveal in this unique neo-doc, the horror and the humor, the rhetoric and the reality, of those events and their aftermath, in a style and rhythm calculated to resonate with--and inspire--contemporary youth. . .

Sundance may be a long way from Ramrod Key, the spirit of Yippie lingers on.,1,2060567.story


SENATOR ROBERT BYRD - The Senate, with its two members per state, regardless of population is the forum of the states. Indeed, in the last Congress, 52 members, a majority, representing the 26 smallest states accounted for just 17.06% of the U.S. population. In other words, a majority in the Senate does not necessarily represent a majority of the population. The Senate is intended for deliberation not point scoring. It is a place designed from its inception, as expressive of minority views. Even 60 Senators, the number required for cloture, would represent just 24% of the population, if they happened to all hail from the 30 smallest states. Unfettered debate, the right to be heard at length, is the means by which we perpetuate the equality of the states.

In fact, it was 1917, before any curtailing of debate was attempted, which means that from 1806 to 1917, some 111 years, the Senate rejected any limits to debate. Democracy flourished along with the filibuster. The first actual cloture rule in 1917, was enacted in response to a filibuster by those who opposed U.S. intervention in World War I.

But, even after its enactment, the Senate was slow to embrace cloture, understanding the pitfalls of muzzling debate. In 1949, the 1917 cloture rule was modified to make cloture more difficult to invoke, not less, mandating that the number needed to stop debate would be not two-thirds of those present and voting, but two-thirds of all Senators.

Indeed, from 1919 to 1962, the Senate voted on cloture petitions only 27 times and invoked cloture just four times over those 43 years.

On January 4, 1957, Senator William Ezra Jenner of Indiana spoke in opposition to invoking cloture by majority vote. He stated with conviction:

"So long as there is free debate, men of courage and understanding will rise to defend against potential dictators. . .The Senate today is one place where, no matter what else may exist, there is still a chance to be heard, an opportunity to speak, the duty to examine, and the obligation to protect. It is one of the few refuges of democracy. Minorities have an illustrious past, full of suffering, torture, smear, and even death. Jesus Christ was killed by a majority; Columbus was smeared; and Christians have been tortured. Had the United States Senate existed during those trying times, I am sure these people would have found an advocate. Nowhere else can any political, social, or religious group, finding itself under sustained attack, receive a better refuge."

Senator Jenner was right. The Senate was deliberately conceived to be what he called a "better refuge," meaning one styled as guardian of the rights of the minority. The Senate is the "watchdog" because majorities can be wrong, and filibusters can highlight injustices. History is full of examples. . .

Free and open debate on the Senate floor ensures citizens a say in their government. The American people are heard, through their Senator, before their money is spent, before their civil liberties are curtailed, or before a judicial nominee is confirmed for a lifetime appointment. We are the guardians, the stewards, the protectors of our people. Our voices are their voices. . .

Many times in our history we have taken up arms to protect a minority against the tyrannical majority in other lands. We, unlike Nazi Germany or Mussolini's Italy, have never stopped being a nation of laws, not of men.

But witness how men with motives and a majority can manipulate law to cruel and unjust ends. Historian Alan Bullock writes that Hitler's dictatorship rested on the constitutional foundation of a single law, the Enabling Law. Hitler needed a two-thirds vote to pass that law, and he cajoled his opposition in the Reichstag to support it. Bullock writes that "Hitler was prepared to promise anything to get his bill through, with the appearances of legality preserved intact." And he succeeded.

Hitler's originality lay in his realization that effective revolutions, in modern conditions, are carried out with, and not against, the power of the State: the correct order of events was first to secure access to that power and then begin his revolution. Hitler never abandoned the cloak of legality; he recognized the enormous psychological value of having the law on his side. Instead, he turned the law inside out and made illegality legal. . .

Yes, we believe in Majority rule, but we thrive because the minority can challenge, agitate, and question. We must never become a nation cowed by fear, sheeplike in our submission to the power of any majority demanding absolute control.

Generations of men and women have lived, fought and died for the right to map their own destiny, think their own thoughts, and speak their minds. If we start, here, in this Senate, to chip away at that essential mark of freedom - here of all places, in a body designed to guarantee the power of even a single individual through the device of extended debate - we are on the road to refuting the Preamble to our own Constitution and the very principles upon which it rests.

Democratic Party nominations

NPR - It's been more than a half-century since Adlai Stevenson walked into the 1952 Democratic convention in Chicago as a non-candidate and left as the nominee. Here's a timeline for when the Dem nomination was sewn up ever since:

1956: Unlike '52, this time Stevenson ran and won in several key primaries over Sen. Estes Kefauver (TN), notably the late contests in Florida and California. By the end of July, Kefauver ended his candidacy and endorsed Stevenson, who went on to win the nomination easily on the first ballot.

1960: Sen. John F. Kennedy (MA) won every primary he entered and was the clear favorite for the nomination from the outset. His principal challenger, Sen. Lyndon Johnson (TX), didn't declare his candidacy until the convention opened in Los Angeles. But Kennedy won easily on the first ballot.

1964: There was no Democratic opposition to President Johnson.

1968: Vice President Hubert Humphrey didn't win, let alone enter, a single primary contest. But with the party machinery and the convention controlled by his supporters, Humphrey was easily nominated in Chicago.

1972: Sen. George McGovern (SD) went from long shot to likely nominee once he defeated Sen. Humphrey (MN) in the California primary. But anti-McGovern forces at the Miami Beach convention had one last chance: They fought to change the rule that awarded California's 271 delegates on a winner-take-all basis. Had they succeeded, McGovern's nomination would have been in jeopardy. But the full convention upheld the state law, and McGovern had his nomination.

1976: Former Georgia Gov. Jimmy Carter's victory in the June 8 Ohio primary essentially ended the fight for the nomination.

1980: President Carter lost some key primaries to challenger Sen. Edward Kennedy (MA) on June 3, notably in California and New Jersey. But his victory in Ohio on the same day gave him a majority of the delegates needed to win renomination. Kennedy refused to concede, however, and battled on to the convention in New York in a vain attempt to defeat the rule that bound the delegates to vote for the candidates they were elected to represent on the first ballot.

1984: Former Vice President Walter Mondale's victory over Sen. Gary Hart (CO) in New Jersey on June 5, the last day of the primaries, gave him a majority of delegates. Hart's victory in California on the same day was too little, too late.

1988: Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis' win over the Rev. Jesse Jackson in the Wisconsin primary on April 5 made him the clear favorite to win the nomination, and his victory in New York two weeks later all but sealed the deal. It became official on June 7 with landslide victories in California and New Jersey.

1992: Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton didn't win his first primary until Georgia, but for nearly all of the primary season he was the clear front-runner. He went over the top with a sweep of the primaries on June 2.

1996: There was no Democratic opposition to President Clinton.

2000: Vice President Al Gore defeated former Sen. Bill Bradley not only in Iowa and New Hampshire, but in every single primary and caucus as well. Bradley was gone from the race by March 9.

2004: Sen. John Kerry (MA) also began with victories in Iowa and New Hampshire. His win in Wisconsin on Feb. 17 eliminated former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, and with Kerry's near-sweep of Super Tuesday on March 2, Edwards ended his campaign.

American flag. . .


[John Seigenthaler, founder of the First Amendment Center, discussed patriotism and the flag in a lecture at the center]

MELANIE BENGTSON, FIRST AMENDMENT CENTER - Seigenthaler said he, like most Americans, was taught that a young widow during the Revolutionary War designed the American flag at George Washington's request. Seigenthaler then told the story of Francis Hopkinson, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, who billed Congress in 1780 for designing the American flag. Though he was never paid, Congress never denied that he was the flag's creator.

The story of Betsy Ross was first reported in 1870 by her grandson, who claimed that his grandmother had shared the story with him as she was dying. The country accepted his tale because, Seigenthaler said, people needed unity and something to rally around. The Civil War had just ended and discord still rippled through the states, echoing the tragedy the country had just witnessed.

In 1892, the Pledge of Allegiance first appeared, having been written by a socialist and Baptist minister named Francis Bellamy. Soon every schoolchild across the nation was reciting his words and saluting the flag daily.

The Supreme Court ruled in Minersville School District v. Gobitis in 1940 that public school officials were justified in ordering two Jehovah's Witness children to salute and say the pledge - despite their faith's prohibition against paying homage to what they viewed as a "graven image" as described in Exodus.

After the ruling, Jehovah's Witnesses across the country found themselves the target of 1,500 violent acts because they would not salute the flag. It was the eve of the United State's entrance in World War II and the Court's opinion "coincided with a gathering patriotic firestorm," Seigenthaler said.

Horrified by the violence, in 1943 the Supreme Court overturned its previous ruling in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette.

Initially, proposed laws against flag desecration were aimed at entrepreneurs using its image to promote products in the late 19th century. However, in recent years a number of bills have been introduced in Congress to change the Constitution to allow flag protection. The most recent, proposed by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, lacked one vote to pass in June 2006. According to the First Amendment Center's State of the First Amendment survey, 63% of the public opposes a constitutional ban on flag-burning.

Allen Ginsberg


PAUL KRASSNER - Although November 1st is the 50th anniversary of the publication of Allen Ginsberg's Howl, I knew him more as an activist than a poet. Our paths had crossed often--at civil rights marches, antiwar rallies, marijuana smoke-ins, environmental demonstrations--and when it came to gay rights, he was on the front lines. As a researcher, he meticuolously acquired files on everything that the CIA ever did, and I'm pleased that they're included in his archives at Stanford University.

In 1982, there was a celebration of the 25th anniversary of Jack Kerouac's On the Road at Naropa, a Buddhist college in Boulder, Colorado, where presumably they refer to his book as On the Path. I was invited to moderate a discussion, "Political Fallout of the Beat Generation." The panelists: Ginsberg, William Burroughs, Abbie Hoffman and Timothy Leary.

During that panel, Ginsberg said: "I think there was one slight shade of error in describing the Beat movement as primarly a protest movement. That was the thing that Kerouac was always complaining about. He felt the literary aspect or the spiritual aspect or the emotional aspect was not so much protest at all, but a declaration of unconditioned mind beyond protest, beyond resentment, beyond loser, beyond winner - way beyond winner - beyond winner or loser. . . but the basic thing that I understood and dug Jack for was unconditioned mind, negative capability, totally open mind--beyond victory or defeat.

"Just awareness, and that was the humor, and that's what the saving grace is. That's why there will be political after effects, but it doesn't have to win because having to win a revolution is like having to make a million dollars."

As moderator, I asked, "Abbie, since you used to quote Che Guevara saying, 'In a revolution, one wins or dies,' do you have a response to that?"

Hoffman: "All right, Ginzo. Poems have a lot of different meanings for different people. For me, your poem Howl was a call to arms."

Ginsberg: "A whole boatload of sentimental bullshit."

Hoffman: "We saw in the sixties a great imbalance of power, and the only way that you could correct that imbalance was to organize people and to fight for power. Power is not a dirty word. The concept of trying to win against social injustice is not a dirty kind of concept. It all depends on how you define the game, how you define winning and how you define losing - that's the Zen trip that was learned by defining that you were the prophets and we were the warriors. I'm saying that you didn't fight, but you were the fighters.

"And I'll tell you, If you don't think you were a political movement and you don't like winning, the fuckin' lawyer that defended Howl in some goddamn obscenity suit - you wanted him to be a fuckin' winner, I guarantee you that. That was a political debate."

Ironically, Ginsberg was very insecure about Howl, and he questioned the big fuss over it. "There shouldn't be a trial over this poem," he once lamented. In fact, a biography of Allen Ginsberg - American Scream by Jonah Raskin - has a surprising revelation: "In the mid-1970s, in the midst of the counterculture he had helped to create, he promised to rewrite Howl. Now that he was a hippie minstrel and a Pied Piper for the generation that advocated peace and love he would alter Howl, he said, so that it might reflect the euphoria of the hippies.

He would include a 'positive redemptive catalogue,' he said." The famous opening line of Howl was, "I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked..." Abbie Hoffman would've been shocked to learn that Ginsberg had planned to rewrite Howl, this time beginning with an upbeat line: "I saw the best minds of my generation turned on by music..."

On one hand, Ginsberg was a pacifist. When he first started taking LSD, he thought that world peace would come about only if President Kennedy and Russian premier Nikita Krushchev would take acid together. And yet I remember a scene - this was in the early '70s - Ken Kesey, my daughter Holly and I were visiting William Burroughs in New York. He lived in this huge loft, with a great many cardboard boxes and one cat, and he was wearing a suit and tie with high-top red sneakers. We decided to visit Ginsberg in the hospital.

He'd had a stroke, and part of his face was paralyzed. He was in bed, and I introduced him to Holly, and he graciously struggled to sit up and shake hands with her, but he was weak and deep in some kind of medication. A little later - in psychiatry this is called a "primary process" - he blurted out, "Henry Kissinger should have his head chopped off!" It was a pure case of Ginsbergian Tourettes' Syndrome. Subsequently, Kesey would reminisce, "I was at a party one time, when I first knew Ginsberg, and he was standing by himself over by the fireplace, with a wine glass in his hand, and people milling around, and finally some young girl sort of broke off from the rest of the crowd and approached him and said, 'I can't talk to you - you're a legend.' And he said, 'Yes, but I'm a friendly legend.'"

SAM SMITH, WHY BOTHER? - we tend to think of the 1950s as a time of unmitigated conformity, but in many ways the decade of the 60s was merely the mass movement of ideas that took root in the 50s. In beat culture, jazz, and the civil rights movement there had already been a stunning critique of, and rebellion against, the adjacent and the imposed.

Steven Watson credits the term beat to circus and carnival argot, later absorbed by the drug culture. "Beat" meant robbed or cheated as in a "beat deal." Herbert Huncke, who picked up the word from show business friends and spread it to the likes of William Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, and Jack Kerouac, would say later that he never meant it to be elevating: "I meant beaten. The world against me."

Gregory Corso defined it this way, "By avoiding society you become separate from society and being separate from society is being beat." Keruoac, on the other hand, thought it involved "mystical detachment and relaxation of social and sexual tensions."

Inherent in all this was not only rebellion but a journey. "We were leaving confusion and nonsense behind and performing our one and noble function of the time, move," wrote Kerouac in On the Road. It is instructive during a time in which even alienated progressives outfit themselves with mission and vision statements and speak the bureaucratic argot of their oppressors to revisit that under-missioned, under-visioned culture of what Norman Mailer called the "psychic outlaw" and "the rebel cell in our social body." What Ned Plotsky termed, "the draft dodgers of commercial civilization."

Unlike today's activists they lacked a plan; unlike those of the 60s they lacked anything to plan for; what substituted for utopia and organization was the freedom to think, to speak, to move at will in a culture that thought it had adequately taken care of all such matters.

Although the beats are frequently parodied for their dress, sartorial nonconformity was actually more a matter of indifference rather than, as in the case of some of the more recently alienated, conscious style. They even wore ties from time to time. Yet so fixed was the stereotype that the caption of a 1950s AP photograph of habitués in front of Washington's Coffee 'n' Confusion Café described it as a place for bearded beatniks when not one person in the picture had a beard. Rather they were a bunch of young white guys with white shirts and short haircuts.

Cool resided in a nonchalant, negligent non-conformity rather than in a considered counter style and counter symbolism.. To a far great degree than rebellions that followed, the beat culture created its message by being rather than doing, rejection rather than confrontation, sensibility rather than strategy, journeys instead of movements, words and music instead of acts, and informal communities rather than formal institutions.

For the both the contemporaneous civil rights movement and the 1960s rebellion that followed, such a revolt by attitude seemed far from enough. Yet these full-fledged uprisings could not have occurred without years of anger and hope being expressed in more individualistic and less disciplined ways, ways that may seem ineffective in retrospect yet served as absolutely necessary scaffolding with which to build a powerful movement.




Lady Bird Johnson

TIME - Like everyone else who studied the couple, [Time's Hugh] Sidey had wondered during his coverage of the Johnson saga, almost from day one, how Lady Bird stood it and never - yes, never - retaliated with anything but a serene and enduring love of the rarest kind. "I adored him," was about as far as she would go to describe her feeling which he said was "awesome in both its physical and intellectual dimensions." She found a natural force, understood that and guided it to the top. Otherwise she might have been a forgotten housewife in clunky shoes and he just another eccentric and embarrassing politician in mohair suits who marched into oblivion. . .

Many political observers believe she can claim a big part of her husband's lopsided win over Barry Goldwater in 1964. The South, angry over LBJ's civil rights efforts, was smoldering when she whistle-stopped from Virginia to New Orleans on the Lady Bird Special, at first enduring catcalls and hostile placards ("Fly Away Black Bird") but the same soft tolerance she used on her husband she used on the southern crowds: "In this country we have many viewpoints. You are entitled to yours. Right now I am entitled to mine." By New Orleans the stories of her sweet courage had turned the risky political journey into a roar of approval and pride. . .

As first lady, Lady Bird created a legacy through her passion for what the press called "beautification" and the legislation it produced. She had the billboards and junk yards banished from the federal highway rights-of-way; and she inspired the carpets of daffodils and tulips that delight tourists who come to the nation's Capital. She was more than a gardener. She was one of the first true environmentalists of our times. Even LBJ liked the idea, complaining proudly one day that he had a hell of a time taking a nap because Lady Bird and Laurence Rockefeller and a bunch of other beautification folks down below his bedroom were holding a meeting and talking loud and he could not go to sleep. "She's going to beautify us right out of existence," he said.

Lady Bird never liked the term "beautification." What she was doing went beyond that, something to hold the land, bring grace and meaning to scarred lives. "You reporters come up with another word," she used to say. . .,8599,1642536,00.html

SAM SMITH, MULTITUDES - Only a few national figures gave more than passing attention to the capital city. The most striking exceptions were Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson. When Congress wouldn't act on home rule, LBJ gave the city its own de facto government through the expediency of a bureaucratic reorganization, his appointees instructed personally by the big man to "act as if they had been elected." And Lady Bird personally directed a beautification program for our neighborhood. This was no publicity shot, rather a carefully designed program in which she enlisted the efforts of premier landscape architect Larry Halperin who produced one of the few urban plans I've seen that didn't involve the probable displacement of currently resident citizens. Further, she assigned a White House staffer to work with neighborhood leaders -- using skill instead of spin -- in carrying out the project. There would be periodic reports of a White House limousine arriving in our neighborhood as Mrs. Johnson quietly checked on how things were going.

Mrs. Johnson is one of the most underrated of president's wives, ignored, for example, by the boomer women who fawned over Hillary Clinton. In fact, Mrs. Johnson had certain similarities with HRC. She was fiercely independent, she struck out on her own, she was a professional, she made her own money, and she had to deal with a husband who was abusive and a sexual predator. The difference was that Lady Bird took on these challenges with skill, wisdom and integrity. Add in the far greater prejudice against women of her time and this becomes truly impressive. For example, Lady Bird had the nerve to major in journalism long before the days of ubiquitous blow-dried blonde anchorwomen. There weren't glass ceilings back then but heavy, locked doors. She was the first woman in the White House to earn a million dollars on her own. And she ran her own television operation.

Instead of heavily contrived "listening tours," Mrs. Johnson took a four-day 1,628 mile trip through the south to sell the 1964 Civil Rights Act to towns, writes one biographer, that "were in such racial turmoil it was not considered safe for Johnson to go. Her message was that the Civil War should at long last come to an end which could only happen if the South shed its racist past and moved into the modern world." As the Washington Post noted years later, she faced "bomb threats, snubs from local governors, rumors of riots, and heckling from crowds." When key Johnson aide Walter Jenkins was spotted in homosexual activity at the local Y, Lady Bird urged LBJ to let her give him a job at her television station so it wouldn't look at though they were deserting the Jenkins in their time of need. Said LBJ, "You won't have your license five minutes." Replied his wife: "I'd just rather offer it to them and let the license go down the drain." Being that her husband was LBJ and the time was the 1960s, Lady Bird eventually capitulated.

ANN GERHART WASHINGTON POST - When fate forced her to follow the elegant and beloved Jacqueline Kennedy into the White House, Lady Bird told Americans her role would emerge in deeds. She traveled the country speaking up on Head Start and her husband's War on Poverty. . .

Lady Bird came from a generation of women who insisted on carrying out their wifely duties with dignity and professionalism, even as their husbands rebuked them, derided their appearance and took mistresses. To offer this traditional support to her husband during his presidency, she created the modern institutional apparatus of the First Lady. "She was the first to have a press secretary and chief of staff, and an expanded liaison with Congress and a structure to deal with outside groups," said Lewis Gould, author of "Lady Bird Johnson: Our Environmental First Lady."

"She was the first to have somebody to advance her appearances and write her speeches, and you began to get the bureaucracy around the role. She was an activist.". . .

"My theory on Mrs. Johnson is that she decided as smart women did in Texas in the '30s that she was probably smarter than 90 percent of the guys she encountered, but if she let them know that, she was going to be in difficulty. She internalized that and felt that effectiveness was more important than credit," said Gould.

Jack Kerouac


JOYCE JOHNSON, SMITHSONIAN MAGAZINE - In the late 1940s, "beat" had been a code word among Jack, Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs and a small group of like-minded hipster friends; it had connoted a saturation with experience almost to the point of exhaustion - then looking up from the depths for more. Although Jack doggedly tried to explain that he had derived the word from "beatific," the more the press covered the Beat Generation, the more "beat" lost its meaning. Soon it was the belittling word "beatnik," coined by San Francisco columnist Herb Caen, that caught on.

Becoming beat had implied a kind of spiritual evolution. But "beatnik" stood for an identity almost anyone could assume (or take off) at will. It seemed to come down to finding a beret or a pair of black stockings and a bongo drum to bang on. Beatniks wanted "kicks" - sex, drugs and alcohol. They were more interested in hard partying than knowing themselves or knowing time. The two ideas, beat and beatnik - one substantive and life-expanding, the other superficial and hedonistic - helped shape the counterculture of the '60s and to this day are confused with each other, not only by Kerouac's detractors but even by some of his most ardent fans.

Young people often ask me whether there could ever be another Beat Generation, forgetting one essential tenet of the beat writers: make it new. "I don't want imitators," Jack would often say, undone as much by the loss of his anonymity and the cheapening of what he wanted to communicate as by the brutal attacks of establishment critics.

Beatniks were passe from the start, but On the Road has never gone without readers, though it took decades to lose its outlaw status. Only recently was it admitted - cautiously - to the literary canon. (The Modern Library has named it one of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century.) Fifty years after On the Road was first published, Kerouac's voice still calls out: Look around you, stay open, question the roles society has thrust upon you, don't give up the search for connection and meaning. In this bleak new doom-haunted century, those imperatives again sound urgent and subversive - and necessary.





Jack Kennedy


JOSEPH EPSTEIN, HISTORY NEWS NETWORK - As someone with a vivid memory of Kennedy's brief and lackluster term as president, I have been amused over the following 44 years to watch the myth of the greatness of John F. Kennedy grow. Here was a president who initiated no impressive programs, was less than notably courageous in coming to the aid of civil-rights workers in the South, got the nation enmeshed in one of the most unpopular wars in our history (Vietnam), and brought it to the edge of nuclear war in a probably unnecessary war of nerves with Nikita Khrushchev over the installation of Soviet missiles in Cuba. In short, John F. Kennedy was a president who, based on the decisions he made or didn't have the courage to make while in office, deserves to go down as one of the resoundingly mediocre figures in American presidential history.

And so he would have done but for the one brilliant decision he did make -- to surround himself with a staff of Harvard men and Cambridge intellectuals who continue to supply him with an unrelenting public relations build-up. A powerful PR man named Ben Sonnenberg used to say, apropos of his clients, that he made large pedestals for small men. Mr. Sonnenberg could have learned a thing or two from the Kennedy staff men. To invent a greater Camelot, alas, one has to sham a lot.

Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., John Kenneth Galbraith, Richard Goodwin and Theodore Sorensen were among the circle around Kennedy -- a president the British humorist Malcolm Muggeridge called "The Loved One" -- who have kept pumping away at his already inflated reputation. Scheslinger, who started out in life as an historian and ended up as a courtier, worked most assiduously at this project, writing thick, overly dramatized books on both Jack and Bobby Kennedy, books with a very low truth quotient. . .

After the Kennedy administration, the Democrats were no longer the party of the little man (Harry Truman's party), or the party of the underdog (Franklin Delano Roosevelt's party), but that of the intellectual and cultural sahibs pretending to speak for the little man and the underdogs because it makes them feel virtuous to do so; they turn politics into an affair of snobbery, where politicians are judged on elegance not substance. One recalls how much of an outsider the Kennedy people made Lyndon Baines Johnson feel -- LBJ, that vulgar Texan who attended Southwest Texas State Teachers College.

Because of the regularity with which John F. Kennedy's name is invoked by his skillful PR flacks, the Democrats keep turning up rather anemic Kennedy imitators -- Michael Dukakis, Walter Mondale, John Kerry (with only an occasional genuine hustler like Bill Clinton popping up almost by accident) -- to head their presidential tickets. But the criteria for president of the United States aren't the same as those set by the deans of admission at Harvard or Yale, Brown or Duke. The happy snobbery of feeling culturally superior and morally virtuous that is at the heart of the Kennedy myth shouldn't be what politics is about.

Military opposition to bombing Hironshima

LEO MALEY III & UDAY MOHAN, HISTORY NEWS NETWORK - Contrary to conventional opinion today, many military leaders of the time -- including six out of seven wartime five-star officers -- criticized the use of the atomic bomb.

Take, for example, Adm. William Leahy, White House chief of staff and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the war. Leahy wrote in his 1950 memoirs that "the use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender." Moreover, Leahy continued, "In being the first to use it, we had adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages. I was not taught to make war in that fashion, and wars cannot be won by destroying women and children."

President Eisenhower, the Allied commander in Europe during World War II, recalled in 1963, as he did on several other occasions, that he had opposed using the atomic bomb on Japan during a July 1945 meeting with Secretary of War Henry Stimson: "I told him I was against it on two counts. First, the Japanese were ready to surrender and it wasn't necessary to hit them with that awful thing. Second, I hated to see our country be the first to use such a weapon."

Adm. William "Bull" Halsey, the tough and outspoken commander of the U.S. Third Fleet, which participated in the American offensive against the Japanese home islands in the final months of the war, publicly stated in 1946 that "the first atomic bomb was an unnecessary experiment." The Japanese, he noted, had "put out a lot of peace feelers through Russia long before" the bomb was used.


In American history, the Populists were a political party that supported the farmers during a time when the nation was debating whether to use paper "greenbacks" or gold as the national currency. The Populists supported

Graduated income tax

Government ownership of railroads, telegraphs, and telephone

Direct election of U.S. senators

One-term limit on presidency

Adoption of initiative and referendum to allow citizens to shape legislation more directly

Short workday

Immigration restriction

During the 1892 election, they received 22 electoral votes, thus becoming one of the few third parties in U.S. history to break into the electoral column. - Thid Party Offer

Scott's last letters from Antarctica

CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY - Robert Falcon Scott's last letters have been given to the University by the descendants of the famous explorer. The collection also includes messages sent by his wife and his young son, who was just learning to write at the time of his father's doomed expedition to the South Pole.

Three-year-old Peter sent two messages to his father as he and his mother, Kathleen, anxiously awaited news of Scott's return in 1912. One says: "Dear Daddy I am going to be a drummer" and the other simply "I love you". Tragically the little boy's letters never reached his father - Scott and his fellow-explorers had already succumbed to extreme frostbite, malnutrition and exhaustion as they fought their way across the Antarctic.

For the first time, scholars and members of the public will also be able to examine Scott's own, deeply moving final letter home. Dated March 1912 and addressed "To my widow", the document was found in his tent when the team's bodies were recovered in 1913.

Scott wrote it on scraps of his journal over a period of days as he and his companions tried to battle their way back from the Pole in blizzard conditions and unimaginable cold. At the start of 1912 they had arrived at the Pole only to discover that the Norwegian explorer, Roald Amundsen, had beaten them to it by a month.

As they began the long and demoralizing journey back, the weather set in. . . Scott and his remaining two companions were just 11 miles short of their supply depot when they finally perished. . .


To my widow:

Dearest Darling - we are in a very tight corner and I have doubts of pulling through - In our short lunch hours I take advantage of a very small measure of warmth to write letters preparatory to a possible end - the first is naturally to you on whom my thought mostly dwell waking or sleeping - if anything happens to me I shall like you to know how much you have meant to me and that pleasant recollections are with me as I depart - I should like you to take what comfort you can from these facts also - I shall not have suffered any pain but leave the world fresh from harness and full of good health and vigour - this is dictated already, when provisions come to an end we simply stop where we are within easy distance of another depot. Therefore you must not imagine a great tragedy - we are very anxious of course and have been for weeks but on splendid physical condition and our appetites compensate for all discomfort. The cold is biting and sometimes angering but here again the hot food which drives it forth is so wonderfully enjoyable that we would scarcely be without it.

We have gone down hill a good deal since I wrote the above. Poor Titus Oates has gone - he was in a bad state - the rest of us keep going and imagine we have a chance to get through but the cold weather doesn't let up at all - we are now only 20 miles from a depot but we have very little food or fuel

Well dear heart I want you to take the whole thing very sensibly as I am sure you will - the boy will be your comfort I had looked forward to helping you to bring him up but it is a satisfaction to feel that he is safe with you. I think both he and you ought to be specially looked after by the country for which after all we have given our lives with something of spirit which makes for example - I am writing letters on this point in the end of this book after this. Will you send them to their various destinations?

I must write a little letter for the boy if time can be found to be read when he grows up - dearest that you know cherish no sentimental rubbish about re marriage - when the right man comes to help you in life you ought to be your happy self again - I hope I shall be a good memory certainly the end is nothing for you to be ashamed of and I like to think that the boy will have a good start in parentage of which he may be proud.

Dear it is not easy to write because of the cold - 70 degrees below zero and nothing but the shelter of our tent - you know I have loved you, you know my thoughts must have constantly dwelt on you and oh dear me you must know that quite the worst aspect of this situation is the thought that I shall not see you again - The inevitable must be faced - you urged me to be leader of this party and I know you felt it would be dangerous - I've taken my place throughout, haven't I? God bless you my own darling I shall try and write more later - I go on across the back pages

Since writing the above we have got to within 11 miles of our depot with one hot meal and two days cold food and we should have got through but have been held for four days by a frightful storm - I think the best chance has gone we have decided not to kill ourselves but to fight it to the last for that depot but in the fighting there is a painless end so don't worry. I have written letters on odd pages of this book - will you manage to get them sent? You see I am anxious for you and the boy's future - make the boy interested in natural history if you can, it is better than games - they encourage it at some schools - I know you will keep him out in the open air - try and make him believe in a God, it is comforting. Oh my dear my dear what dreams I have had of his future and yet oh my girl I know you will face it stoically - your portrait and the boy's will be found in my breast and the one in the little red Morocco case given by Lady Baxter - There is a piece of the Union flag I put up at the South Pole in my private kit bag together with Amundsen's black flag and other trifles - give a small piece of the Union flag to the King and a small piece to Queen Alexandra and keep the rest a poor trophy for you! - What lots and lots I could tell you of this journey. How much better it has been than lounging in comfort at home - what tales you would have for the boy but oh what a price to pay - to forfeit the sight of your dear dear face - Dear you will be good to the old mother. I write her a little line in this book. Also keep in with Ettie and the others- oh but you'll put on a strong face for the world - only don't be too proud to accept help for the boys sake - he ought to have a fine career and do something in the world. I haven't time to write to Sir Clements - tell him I thought much of him and never regretted him putting me in command of the Discovery.



Rick Shenkman, History News Network

THE PILGRIMS HELD THE FIRST THANKSGIVING: To see what the first Thanksgiving was like you have to go to: Texas. Texans claim the first Thanksgiving in America actually took place in little San Elizario, a community near El Paso, in 1598 -- twenty-three years before the Pilgrims' festival. . . Then again, you may want to go to Virginia.. At the Berkeley Plantation on the James River they claim the first Thanksgiving in America was held there on December 4th, 1619. . .

THANKSGIVING WAS ABOUT FAMILY - Thanksgiving was a multicultural community event. If it had been about family, the Pilgrims never would have invited the Indians to join them.

THANKSGIVING WAS ABOUT RELIGION - No it wasn't. Paraphrasing the answer provided above, if Thanksgiving had been about religion, the Pilgrims never would have invited the Indians to join them. Besides, the Pilgrims would never have tolerated festivities at a true religious event. Indeed, what we think of as Thanksgiving was really a harvest festival. Actual "Thanksgivings" were religious affairs; everybody spent the day praying. . .

THE PILGRIMS ATE TURKEY - What did the Pilgrims eat at their Thanksgiving festival? They didn't have corn on the cob, apples, pears, potatoes or even cranberries. No one knows if they had turkey, although they were used to eating turkey. The only food we know they had for sure was deer. So how did we get the idea that you have turkey and cranberry and such on Thanksgiving? It was because the Victorians prepared Thanksgiving that way. And they're the ones who made Thanksgiving a national holiday, beginning in 1863. . .

THE PILGRIMS LANDED ON PLYMOUTH ROCK - According to historian George Willison, who devoted his life to the subject, the story about the rock is all malarkey, a public relations stunt pulled off by townsfolk to attract attention. . . Anyway, the Pilgrims didn't land in Plymouth first. They first made landfall at Provincetown.

PILGRIMS LIVED IN LOG CABINS - No Pilgrim ever lived in a log cabin. The log cabin did not appear in America until late in the seventeenth century, when it was introduced by Germans and Swedes. The very term "log cabin" cannot be found in print until the 1770s. Log cabins were virtually unknown in England at the time the Pilgrims arrived in America. . . The Pilgrims lived in wood clapboard houses made from sawed lumber.

PILGRIMS DRESSED IN BLACK - Not only did they not dress in black, they did not wear those funny buckles, weird shoes, or black steeple hats. . . Plymouth Plantation historian James W. Baker explains that in the nineteenth century, when the popular image of the Pilgrims was formed, buckles served as a kind of emblem of quaintness. That's the reason illustrators gave Santa buckles. Even the blunderbuss, with which Pilgrims are identified, was a symbol of quaintness. The blunderbuss was mainly used to control crowds. It wasn't a hunting rifle. But it looks out of date and fits the Pilgrim stereotype.

PILGRIMS, PURITANS -- SAME THING - Pilgrims and Puritans were two different groups. The Pilgrims came over on the Mayflower and lived in Plymouth. The Puritans, arriving a decade later, settled in Boston. The Pilgrims welcomed heterogeneousness. Some (so-called "strangers") came to America in search of riches, others (so-called "saints") came for religious reasons. The Puritans, in contrast, came over to America strictly in search of religious freedom. Or, to be technically correct, they came over in order to be able to practice their religion freely. They did not welcome dissent. That we confuse Pilgrims and Puritans would have horrified both. . .


SAM SMITH - I have considered Pilgrims among the most overrated American historical figures ever since he wrote a college paper in Robert G. Albion's class on forty recorded voyages to New England before the Mayflower. And that didn't include all the ones made by those who didn't - or didn't know how - to write it down. About a decade before the Pilgrims, for example, Samuel Champlain not only visited Plymouth harbor, he charted it, including Plymouth Rock.

But history favors occupiers over explorers, hunters, fishermen, and traders. And the literate over the literate. If you want to be remembered here, you have to stay here. And write it down.

A wonderful history of Maine, "Lobster Coast," also suggests that the Pilgrim's Thanksgiving dinner didn't hold up all that well. That winter the Pilgrims were forced to go to get food from some of their pre-arriving countrymen manning a trading post on a Maine island.

The first Europeans to visit New England waters were probably Scandinavian fishermen, who could make the northern transit of the Atlantic and never be more than a few hundred miles from shore. John and Sebastian Cabot, five years after Columbus, passed through and charted Maine's Casco Bay on their way from Nova Scotia to the Carolinas. By 1602, when Bartholomew Gosnold arrived at Cape Neddick, his presence was considered by the Indians to be less than remarkable. John Bereton, the chronicler of the voyage, wrote:

"One who seemed to be their commander wore a coat of black work, a pair of breeches, cloth stockings, shoes, hat and band. . . They spoke divers Christian words and seemed to understand more than we, for lack of language, could comprehend. . . They pronounced our language with great facility; for one of them sitting by me, upon occasion I spake smilingly to him with these words: 'How now sirha are you so saucy with my tobacco,' which words (without any further repetition) he suddenly spake so plaine and distinctly as if he had been a long scholar in the language."

As far back as 1524, Giovanni da Verrazano, arriving to the west of Casco Bay near Ogunquit, got a reception from the Indians that suggested more than a little previous contact with Europeans or "the boat people" as the natives called them. The Indians insisted on standing on a cliff and trading with Verrazano's crew by use of a rope. "We found no courtesy in them," Verrazano complained. Worse they rounded out the transaction by "showing their buttocks and laughing immoderately."



[A friend sent us something he had written on George Washington, which sent us googling for our favorite book about the father of the modern expense account]

EPINIONS - On his selection as Commander of the Continental Armies, General George Washington magnanimously refused remuneration for what he considered a sacred duty to his fellow revolutionaries. Almost. But let George's own words tell it:

"Sir, I beg leave to assure the Congress that as no pecuniary consideration could have tempted me to have accepted this arduous employment, I do not wish to make any profit from it. I will keep an exact account of my expenses. Those I doubt not they will discharge, and that is all I desire."

So, while eschewing remuneration for his services, General Washington did agree to reimbursement of any incidental expenses he might incur during the as yet undecided contest with Great Britain.

At the time, a private made $6.67 per month; a captain $20.00, while a major general made a whopping $166.00 per month. Clearly, Washington was making a valuable and badly needed financial commitment to the impoverished Continental Congress' Treasury.

The little-known book George Washingtons Expense Account, by George Washington and Marvin Kitman, covers the actual expense account turned in to Congress after eight years of struggle in which the United States, under the leadership of General Washington, ousted the British oppressors.

During these eight years of struggle, including the infamous winter at Valley Forge, General Washington managed to gain 30 pounds. . .

In the many meticulously penned longhand entries General Washington bought horses, luggage, delicacies, and liquor and wine by the barrel. In all, the Generals modest needs caused him to incur over $449,000.00 in expenses to secure our liberty. And that in 1789 dollars. It has been estimated that the amount adjusted for inflation would run over $4,000,000 today. Congress approved the whole amount, in fact, they even found a minor addition error among the multitude of entries and adjusted the amount upward 89 cents.

When he had secured the blessings of liberty for posterity, including ourselves, the Congress appointed George Washington our first President. Washington modestly offered to serve without remuneration in this post also, but Congress in its wisdom instead put him on a salary of $25,000 per year. The salad days were over