Is it merely a coincidence that Election Day comes so soon after Halloween? The voting is always in early November, perhaps in consideration of farmers who may be busy harvesting crops through October. Whatever the reason, the campaigns are at or near their climax as witches, ghosts, and goblins appear on the scene and horror movies are on the TV and movie screens to try to scare the populace more than the politicians do. It's a tough challenge for the ghoulish creatures, since the candidates tend to run for high office on the principle that fright makes right.
During the 1976 vice presidential debate between Senators Robert Dole, Republican of Kansas, and Democrat Walter Mondale of Minnesota, Dole outraged Democrats when he said: “All the wars of the 20th century have been Democrat (sic) wars.”
Ted Williams had just returned from a hunting trip in Minnesota, about 40 miles north of Minneapolis, when he heard the news that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor. Most American League pitchers, the Japanese, and later the North Koreans and Communist Chinese, no doubt wished he had stayed there.
The lives of most Americans in 1960 were markedly different from a decade earlier in at least one significant respect. A great many more of us were watching television.
In 1909, in the great state of Illinois, school teachers one February day were directed to spend at least half the school day in public exercises, patriotic music, and recitations of sayings, verses, and speeches to mark the centennial birthday of a great hero. At the end of it all, they were to have their students face in the direction of Springfield and chant in unison the following:
When Thomas Jefferson became the third President of the United States on March 4, 1801, there was but a fleeting hint of warning in his Inaugural Address about dangers to the young Republic from distant forces abroad. America would pursue “peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none,” he proclaimed. But he also asked for “that guidance and support which may enable us to steer with safety the vessel in which we are all embarked amidst the conflicting elements of a troubled world.”
On June 15, 1961, Walter Ulbricht, the communist ruler of East Germany (known officially as the German Democratic Republic) held a press conference in East Berlin to promote a cause he had long advocated: the signing of a treaty between the Soviet Union and Ulbricht’s German Democratic Republic (GDR) so that the East German government would control all land and air routes to Berlin, which would then be, in Ulbricht’s terms, a “Free City.” As Frederick Taylor noted in The Berlin Wall: A World Divided, 1961-1989, Ulbricht’s aides “went out of their way to invite the Western press corps.”
One of the many stories that grew out of John F. Kennedy’s aborted term as President has to do with an idle question put to him by a reporter aboard Air Force One. What would happen, the reporter wondered, if the plane went down, killing all on board?
There is, if you will, an arresting scene in A Man for All Seasons, Robert Bolt’s magnificent play about Sir Thomas More. The scene concerns an arrest that does not take place at the home of More, the Lord Chancellor of England. An acquaintance named Richard Rich is acting suspiciously and members of the More household, and no doubt More himself, suspect he is spying on the Lord Chancellor and is prepared to betray him to his enemies — a suspicion borne out all too well by later events. Rich has no sooner left than More’s wife, daughter, and son-in-law all clamor for his arrest, a request More might grant but for the inconvenient fact that the man had broken no law.
Investors will be anxiously watching when the New York Stock Exchange market opens Monday morning to see what effect Standard and Poor's downgrade of the U.S. credit rating will have on trading. The stock market fell by 7.1 percent last week, before S&P issued its report of the downgrade at the end of the day on Friday. The market fell despite the bill signed into law last Tuesday that allowed the raising of the debt limit to prevent the government from defaulting on its financial obligations, accompanied by a deficit reduction package aimed at trimming $2.1 trillion of deficit spending over the next 10 years.