'The Great American Stupid'

“One may smile and smile and be a villain.” - Hamlet. William Shakespeeare


Nobody could spot a hypocrite like the Bard, and it's my belief that the only sacrilege in the following column is that of the money-grubbing charlatan who inspired it. Permission to reprint “fully granted” by Reader Supported News.

The Great American Stupid

By John Cory, Reader Supported News
29 August 2010

The Glenn Beck Magic Revival Hour is over now. The concession stands have sold out of "Freedumb Pop," while Believers shout hosannas and praise the "Word" as revealed to Beck from the burning sagebrush of John Wayne's sacred spirit.

The great Oz Media has analyzed, punditized, commercialized and celebritized the Archie and Veronica of moral mediocrity, proving once again that if it sparkles like shallow water in sunlight it must be worth ratings.

There is nothing new here, nothing even original. Joe Pyne did it in the late 1950s, Billy Sunday and Aimee Semple McPherson did it in the 1920s, and my friend's dad, Cleon Skousen, warned all of us, America's children and parents, that creeping Communism and Sputnik and rock 'n' roll would bring about the downfall of America unless we joined the John Birch Society.

The country is awash in Commies and Sinners. The End Times are upon us. Again.

Sing a hymn. Say a prayer. And send a dollar for God's profit - Glenn.

The great American stupid goes on and on.

People died in Afghanistan today.

Equipment at a construction site for a new mosque in Tennessee was set on fire.

Americans continue to lose jobs and houses with little relief on the horizon.

The GOP plans to hold probes into possible impeachable offenses by the Obama Administration if they win the midterms. Or at least shut down government.

But hey, a bible-thumping millionaire bunko artist set up his Chautauqua tent on television and spoke in tongues and that is twice as cool as life and death.

God bless America.

In the name of the Holy Trinity: Larry, Curly and Moe -



“False face must hide what the false heart doth know.” – Macbeth, William Shakespeare


A song for JTS

Seven-Year Ache
Roseanne Cash

You act like you were just born tonight,
Face down in a memory but feeling all right.
So, who does your past belong to today?
Baby, you don't say nothing when you're feeling this way.

The girls in the bars thinking, “Who is this guy?”
But, they don't think nothing when they're telling you lies.
You look so careless when they're shooting that bull;
Don't you know heartaches are heroes when their pockets are full?

Tell me you're trying to cure a seven-year ache,
See what else your old heart can take.
The boys say, “When is he gonna give us some room?”
The girls say, “God, I hope he comes back soon.”

Everybody's talking but you don't hear a thing.
You're still uptown on your downhill swing.
Boulevard's empty, why don't you come around?
Baby, what is so great about sleeping downtown?

Plenty of dives to be someone you're not.
You say you're looking for something you might've forgot.
Don't bother calling to say you're leaving alone,
'Cause there's a fool on every corner when you're trying to get home.

Just tell 'em you're trying to cure a seven-year ache,
See what else your old heart can take.
The boys say, “When is he gonna give us some room?”
The girls say, “God, I hope he comes back soon.”

Tell me you're trying to cure a seven-year ache,
See what else your old heart can take.
The boys say, “When is he gonna give us some room?"
The girls say, “God, I hope he comes back soon.”


From fiction to fact

I have just finished two books, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" by Stieg Larsson and Michael Connelly’s “Void Moon,” in which all sorts of high-tech hacking and surreptious cyber-surveillance occur.

In one rock ‘em, sock ‘em scene, I learned that a GPS tracking device can be placed under a car in the three minutes it takes someone to pick up mail from a post office box. Three minutes.

I had no doubt while listening to these two books that the fiction was wrapped around high-tech fact.

Yesterday, I read about the “infected flash drive” which was placed in a laptop computer somewhere in the Middle East, jeopardizing our entire military establishment. LINK

Listen to Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III:

"The flash drive's malicious computer code, placed there by a foreign intelligence agency, uploaded itself onto a network run by the U.S. Central Command, That code spread undetected on both classified and unclassified systems, establishing what amounted to a digital beachhead, from which data could be transferred to servers under foreign control.

"It was a network administrator's worst fear: a rogue program operating silently, poised to deliver operational plans into the hands of an unknown adversary."

And, this morning on cnn.com:

“Police can walk onto your driveway and stick a GPS device on your car without a warrant, according to a federal appeals court ruling in California.” LINK

Such Orwellian language is pretty scary stuff to a 68-year-old woman who remembers the days when you had to adjust the vertical and horizontal hold knobs on a black-and-white TV.

Such spying can only have the effect of suppression reminiscent of the advice I’ve often given to young people caught up in workplace woes: “Keep your mouth shut and keep a low profile.”


Five 'new normals'

I hesitate to step into an area I do not fully understand, but FORTUNE probably has a pretty good grip on the economy, and a recent article talks about an uptick in the phrase “new normal.”

According to the article, there are five new economic normals that will be with us for a while:

1. Long-term unemployment
2. Renting over owning
3. Saving over spending
4. Staycations over vacations
5. Higher taxes for “the rich”

Polls are showing the ecoomy is the number one concern of Americans. Personal pocketbooks will be foremost on voters’ minds come November.

Several weeks ago I ran across a phrase I haven’t been able to shake. Gallup reported a 33 percent hike in one month in personal spending, and the headline stated that upper-income Americans were suffering from “frugality fatigue” and had gone on a spending spree.

Frugality fatigue. Well, God love ‘em.

For those who live in the real world, I do not hesitate to recommend the following article, which even I understand:

“Five 'new normals' that really will stick,” FORTUNE, Nin-Hai Tseng, August 20, 2010


Beck's esoteric bullshit

Glenn Beck’s plans to usurp the Aug. 28 anniversary of MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech with a “Restoring Honor” rally of racists at the Lincoln Memorial is just so blatantly counterintuitive it boogles the mind.

Beck chalks the selection of date and place up to “divine providence.” Yep. The date of the rally was originally set for Sept. 12, but Beck said he realized that was a Sunday, and he was “not going to ask anyone to work on the Sabbath.” (Except, of course, Jews since the 28th is on a Saturday.)

With all the personal honor he can muster, Beck gives this explanation:

"It was not my intention to select 8-28 because of the Martin Luther King tie. It is the day he made that speech. I had no idea until I announced it and I walked offstage and my researchers said, New York Times has already just published that this is [the same day as the King speech] - and I said, 'Oh, jeez.' " (LINK)

And, just a coincidence, too, that the rally will be held at the Lincoln Memorial? Mr. Beck, you wouldn’t lie, would you?

Telling Americans their president has "a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture." Telling them to leave their churches “as fast as they can” if “social justice” is preached. Revising history. Establishing an online university to indoctrinate the malleable. Instilling phobias in his followers. All this for the sake of raking in megabucks.

Where is the “honor” in that?

Or, in the Beck quote which inspired this post:

"There will be absolutely no politics involved, This rally will honor the troops, unite the American people under the principles of integrity and truth, and make a pledge to restore honor within ourselves and our country."

Lofty words for a liar. Here’s one with a simple message:


PHOTO: Bill Mauldin’s famous political cartoon of the Lincoln Memorial grieving after John Kennedy’s assassination.


A song for MJB

Lord, I Hope This Day Is Good
Don Williams

Lord, I hope this day is good,
I'm feeling empty and misunderstood.
I should be thankful, Lord, I know I should,
But, Lord, I hope this day is good.

Lord, have you forgotten me? I've been prayin' to you faithfully.
I'm not saying I’m a righteous man,
But, Lord, I know you'll understand.

I don't need fortune, and I don't need fame,
Send down the thunder, Lord, send down the rain.
But when you're planning just how it will be,
Plan a good day for me.

Lord, I hope this day is good,
I'm feeling empty and misunderstood.
I should be thankful, Lord, I know I should,
But, Lord, I hope this day is good.

You've been the King since the dawn of time,
All that I'm asking is a little less cryin'.
It might be hard for the devil to do,
But it would be easy for you...

Lord, I hope this day is good,
I'm feeling empty and misunderstood.
I should be thankful, Lord, I know I should,
But, Lord, I hope this day is good.


The Bagel Man

This is the story of my favorite summer meal and the lovely soul who inspired it. It is the story of romance and a couple working on graduate degrees in journalism and taking late-night walks for midnight snacks.

This one is for The Bagel Man, with love.

Off the campus of Southern Illinois University-Carbondale runs a street known as “The Strip,” where students are prone to ramble after dark. Boasting restaurants, bars, “the world’s busiest Dairy Queen” and “the world’s largest Halloween celebration,” The Strip also featured, circa early 1980s, a fantastic bagel for just one buck.

From a push-cart equipped with built-in BBQ grill for toasting and containers with tons of toppings, a beautiful young soul known as “The Bagel Man” plied his famous concoctions. He must have sold a million of them. And with his stories, his songs of bagels and his charm made a million hearts happy.

There were tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, garlic, alfafa sprouts, raisins, apples, cinnamon, peanuts, sunflower seeds and many other toppings to mix and match, and the wackier the combination the better. All on a grilled bagel heaped with cream cheese. Just a buck!

The first time I met this young man, I asked him to recommend his favorite bagel combination, and I was hooked. I reproduce it here, not the real thing, but as close as I can get:

Preparation time: 15 minutes. Serves three persons – two bagels per person.

6 Lender’s frozen bagels – plain
1 cucumber, sliced
Planter’s Dry-Roasted Peanuts, salted
Sunmaid Raisins
8 oz. Philadelphia Cream Cheese (don’t even think about using fat-free)

Toast whole frozen bagels on a cookie sheet in a 350-degree oven for six minutes. Turn the oven off and leave the bagels to toast for six more minutes.

On each toasted bagel bottom, spread one-sixth of the block of cream cheese.

Press a handful of raisins and a handful of peanuts into the cream cheese (use a dinner plate as some of the goodies will spill out).

Top with three cucumber slices and press the bagel top on.

Of all the things I learned at SIU-Carbondale, this was probably the most lasting and rewarding!


Out of curiosity, I did a Google search on “The Bagel Man, Carbondale, Illinois” and am delighted to know he’s still there on The Strip every night.

From an article:

“Winston Mezo, Carbondale's legendary bagel man … has been a part of Carbondale's identity for more than two decades with his bagel empire.”

Comments from a restaurant review of “Winston’s Bagels:”

“Winston was one of the nicest people to me in my four years at Southern. In addition, he makes a GREAT, unique product for a very reasonable price. Also, of my top ten memories from SIU, two are at (or in line for) a Winston's bagel - in fact, Winston used to have a short poem I'd written about his bagels (for creative writing class) on his cart. I wonder if it's still there.”

“The best part about Winston's is the atmosphere he brings to it. His jokes about his brother, his solid grasp of world and Carbondale events, and Winston's overall Winstonyness make him as unique as his bagels.”

“This is really the best part of Winston's: how unique his product is. A few times, I've plagiarized Winston's recipes for dinners with friends (when I lived in DC and Chicago), and, without exception, they have always been a hit.”

Reading all the comments, I was amused at how many people remembered their favorite toppings!

I said this was a story of romance and late-night walks. I hope Winston remembers “Betty and Jim” just as thousands upon thousands remember him.

This is also a story of a young man, now probably a millionaire, who has stayed in one spot doing his thing for almost 30 years, simply because he loves it and is loved in return.

This is, then, a story of wonderful Southern nights – and success.

PHOTO: Been there, done that? You can even buy the T-shirt HERE.


The GOP Dog-and-Pony Show

PHOTO: From left, Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul, pictured in the order of their standing as the top 2012 GOP presidential hopefuls, according to a new CNN/Opinion Research poll. (Getty Images)

And now, coming to you live from Fox News, a special event from the Steele, Boehner & McConnell Big Top!

Step right up, ladies and gentlemen, for the price of one vote, we’ll give you that old razzle-dazzle.

In the center ring, she walks, she talks, she crawls on her belly like a reptile … just joking, folks. That sassy tweeter Sarah Palin will astound you with her amazing ocular skills – she once saw Russia from her porch – and she challenges anyone to “refudiate” her ability.

In the side rings, Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul. In a sheer test of endurance, they’ll exhibit why they were also-rans in 2008.

Walking the tightrope overhead is Newt Gingrich. Marvel at his ability to balance between moralist and adulterer.

Beep, beep. Here comes the clown car, kiddies. Let’s let The Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson introduce the clowns:

“The Republican Party’s candidate for governor of Colorado believes that bicycle paths are ‘part of a greater strategy to rein in American cities under a United Nations treaty.’ The party’s Senate candidate in Nevada wants to privatize Medicare and Social Security - and has called for the United States to withdraw from the U.N., though not because of the bicycle conspiracy. And the GOP’s Senate candidate in Connecticut once climbed into a professional wrestling ring and kicked a man in the crotch.” (LINK)

Riding the GOP elephants into the ring are a whole host of wonderful wackos. Let’s have a big hand, folks, for Bachman, Inhofe, Kyl, Shelby, DeMint and that crowd-pleaser, Joe “You lie!” Wilson.

(drum roll)

And, now for our big finale, a spectacular event to thrill and chill! That prodigious prevaricator, our hero Dick Cheney has volunteered to be shot through a cannon to an undisclosed location.


Fade to black.

Er, that’s our show for tonight, ladies and gentlemen. Don’t forget to pick up your souvenir programs, T-shirts and copies of that gallivanting gadfly Newt Gingrich’s new book, “Save America: Stopping Obama's Secular-Socialist Machine” and that perennial propagandist Pamela Geller’s “The Post-America Presidency: The Obama Administrtion’s War on America.” We’ve got ‘em, hot off the press, guaranteed to send you into hysteria.

Hope you enjoyed the show. This is Carl Cameron, Fox News, reminding you: don’t believe a word P.T. Barnum said.


Trickle-down Islamophobia

Fresh off a reading of James A. Micherner’s account of his 30 years of travels throughout Spain – “Iberia: Spanish Travels and Reflections” – I am keenly aware of the cnntributions and influence of the Moors on that country.

The Cordoba House, the Muslim mosque and cultural center planned for New York City, is named for a mosque in Cordoba, Spain.

The right-wing propaganda about the mosque in Spain is, according to medieval scholar Carl Pyrdum, “an egregious and purposeful misreading of medieval history.”

Newt Gingrich told an audience at the American Enterprise Institute on 29 July that Islam radicals are infiltrating America’s legal system. Furthermore, he declared the proposed center to be "an act of triumphalism," because "Cordoba is the city in Spain where a conquering Muslim army built a mosque on top of a church.”

Fire ‘em up, Newt.

According to Pyrdum, Gingrich – and other conservatives who have taken up this mantra - are ignoring "300 years of Christian and Muslim history" in Spain. Rather than "symbolizing their victory, the (Cordoba) Mosque was held up by Muslim historians as a symbol of peaceful coexistence with the Christians." As a trustworthy source, Michener’s writing bears this out.

So, who are the lemmings on the right listening to? Two scholars of Spanish history or Newt Gingrich?

A couple of days ago I posted “Hate wave sweeps America.” It is certainly sweeping the comment zones of various news sites and blogs.

It chaps me when someone who doesn’t know sh*t from Shinola about Spanish history will come on a news site and opine:

“This is NOT just a Muslim community center. In islamic eyes, it is a monument to victory over a conquered land. Just like the original Cordoba mosque was built ON a christian church in CONQUERED Spain. Face it folks, the Koran is FUNDAMENTALLY incompatible with the US Constitution.”

So, what it comes down to: does America listen to the trickle-down Islamophobic talking points of people like Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin and the Rev. Pat Robertson, or do we listen to the man in the New York City mayor’s office, who might just know a little more about the proposed center than any of them:

"Whatever you may think of the proposed mosque and community center, lost in the heat of the debate has been a basic question - should government attempt to deny private citizens the right to build a house of worship on private property based on their particular religion?

"That may happen in other countries, but we should never allow it to happen here. This nation was founded on the principle that the government must never choose between religions, or favor one over another. There is no neighborhood in this city that is off-limits to God's love and mercy."


UPDATE: "Obama to support ground zero mosque," cnn.com, 14 August 2010: LINK



Newt Gingrich’s new book is titled “Save America: Stopping Obama's Secular-Socialist Machine.”

DemWit wants to save America from Newt Gingrich.

To that end, I reprint here (leaning heavily on the “fair use notice” in my sidebar) an article for my readers’ edification.

Gingrich Reconciles Cheating On His Wife While Harping On Family Values: ‘It Doesn’t Matter What I Do’

By Alex Seitz-Wald
ThinkProgress, Aug 10, 2010

In his recently published book and in speaking engagements, former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich repeatedly warns that President Obama’s “secular, socialist machine” is threatening to destroy America by undermining the Judeo-Christian “values” upon which the country was built. But while Gingrich chastises the supposed erosion of values on the left, his past is tainted by his own contemptible value judgments, including numerous extra-marital affairs, and pressuring a divorce from his first wife while she lay stricken with cancer in a hospital bed.

In a new Esquire profile, Gingrich’s second wife Marianne — whom he cheated on with his current wife, Callista — breaks her 12-year silence on her relationship with Gingrich to reveal a portrait of a man who understood the deep hypocrisy of his actions, but simply didn’t care:

He asked her to just tolerate the affair, an offer she refused.

He’d just returned from Erie, Pennsylvania, where he’d given a speech full of high sentiments about compassion and family values.

The next night, they sat talking out on their back patio in Georgia. She said, “How do you give that speech and do what you’re doing?”

“It doesn’t matter what I do,” he answered. “People need to hear what I have to say. There’s no one else who can say what I can say. It doesn’t matter what I live.“

Marianne, who was Gingrich’s “closest advisor” during his reign in the 1990s, went on to say that Gingrich “believes that what he says in public and how he lives don’t have to be connected.” But of course, as Gingrich himself demanded when he led a crusade to impeach President Clinton for personal infidelity, politicians’ private lives are inevitably connected to their public ones. Nonetheless, Gingrich has himself admitted to continuing his illicit affair with Callista - 23 years his junior - while simultaneously prosecuting Clinton’s adultery.

Perhaps Gingrich has no qualms about committing the sins he rails against because he doesn’t really believe in what he preaches. Esquire’s John Richardson notes that despite Gingrich’s apocalyptic rhetoric, when encountering radical conservative activists, Gingrich “over and over again … takes the long view and becomes the very soul of probity.”

“I wouldn’t be able to describe what his real principles are,” former Republican Rep. Mickey Edwards said of the former speaker. “I never felt that he had any sort of a real compass about what he believed except for the pursuit of power.”


“Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” You betcha!


Hate wave sweeps America

Ignorance and intolerance are inseparable and have led to periods of instability throughout this nation’s history.

It’s gutwrenching how both are fertilized fields for hatemongering and fearmongering.

DemWit wants readers to step across the blogosphere today and read an outstanding post by a blogger who backs up her sound reason with heavily researched documentation.

But first I offer two quotes:


On 19 October 2008, Gen. Colin Powell was Tom Brokaw’s guest on “Meet the Press.” He explained his endorsement of Senator Barack Obama for the presidency and interated his concerns over the direction the Republican Party has taken – “the Party has moved even further to the right.”.

“I'm also troubled,” Powell said, “by, not what Sen. McCain says, but what members of the Party say. And, it is permitted to be said such things as, ‘Well, you know that Mr. Obama is a Muslim.’ Well, the correct answer is, he is not a Muslim, he's a Christian. He's always been a Christian. But, the really right answer is, ‘What if he is?’ Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer's ‘No, that's not America.’

“Is there something wrong with some seven-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president? Yet, I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion, ‘He's a Muslim, and he might be associated with terrorists.’ This is not the way we should be doing it in America.

“I feel strongly about this particular point because of a picture I saw in a magazine. It was a photo essay about troops who are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. And, one picture at the tail end of this photo essay was of a mother in Arlington Cemetery, and she had her head on the headstone of her son's grave. And, as the picture focused in, you could see the writing on the headstone, and it gave his awards - Purple Heart, Bronze Star - showed that he died in Iraq, gave his date of birth, date of death. He was 20 years old. And then, at the very top of the headstone, it didn't have a Christian cross, it didn't have the Star of David, it had a crescent and a star of the Islamic faith. And, his name was Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan, and he was an American. He was born in New Jersey. He was 14 years old at the time of 9/11, and he waited until he could go serve his country, and he gave his life.

“Now, we have got to stop polarizing ourselves in this way. … I'm troubled about the fact that, within the (Republican) Party, we have these kinds of expressions.”


This quote from a Murfreesboro, Tenn., woman sums up the fear being generated in this country with anti-Islam bullshit from the radical right and the Religious Right:

“As a mother and a grandmother, I worry, I learned that in 20 years with the rate of the birth population, we will be overtaken by Islam, and their goal is to get people in Congress and the Supreme Court to see that Shariah is implemented. My children and grandchildren will have to live under that.”

Leslie at Parsley’s Pics has an outstanding post examining the growing anti-Islam senitiment generated by the radical right across this country. I urge you to read Leslie’s post:

“We Believe in Freedom of Religion Except for Muslims”


Geospatially challenged

Word comes in the wee, small hours that there is another crack in the so-called “glass ceiling.” The woman who writes this blog is left scratching her head.

Letitia “Tish” Long has been named as the first woman to head a U.S. intelligence agency. So, WTG, Tish!

She has been named “director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), the office responsible for collecting and analyzing overhead imagery and geospatial information.”

I don’t even know what this means!

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California), chairwoman of the Intelligence Committee, calls this “a spy agency with a multi-billion dollar budget and thousands of employees.” (LINK)

I swear I’ve never heard of this agency. I realize I’m still trying to figure out how people view Web sites on I-phones, but am I just totally out of it here?

Geospatial information? Is that what Jody Foster was gathering in the movie “Contact”?

I’m counting on DemWit readers to help me out. I used to claim bragging rights because I could program my VCR. Remember VCRs?

Quite impressive, Tish!


Einstein's letters to FDR

A lot has been written about the 65th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, including the late Howard Zinn’s newly released personal account, “The Bomb.” (REVIEW)

In numerous comments on various sites, I’ve found no mention of Albert Einstein’s letters to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Einstein was a pacificist who deeply regretted what he felt compelled to write to FDR. I will not tell you what he wrote, but will publish the four letters here.

Ultimately, there was a choice to be made.


August 2, 1939

Peconic, Long Island

F.D. Roosevelt
President of the United States
White House
Washington, D.C.


Some recent work by E.Fermi and L. Szilard, which has been communicated to me in manuscript, leads me to expect that the element uranium may be turned into a new and important source of energy in the immediate future. Certain aspects of the situation which has arisen seem to call for watchfulness and, if necessary, quick action on the part of the Administration. I believe, therefore, that it is my duty to bring to your attention the following facts and recommendations:

In the course of the last four months it has been made probable - through the work of Joliot in France as well as Fermi and Szilard in America - that it may become possible to set up a nuclear chain reaction in a large mass of uranium,by which vast amounts of power and large quantities of new radium-like elements would be generated. Now it appears almost certain that this could be achieved in the immediate future.

This new phenomenon would also lead to the construction of bombs, and it is conceivable - though much less certain - that extremely powerful bombs of a new type may thus be constructed. A single bomb of this type, carried by boat and exploded in a port, might very well destroy the whole port together with some of the surrounding territory. However, such bombs might very well prove to be too heavy for transportation by air.

The United States has only very poor ores of uranium in moderate quantities. There is some good ore in Canada and the former Czechoslovakia, while the most important source of uranium is Belgian Congo.

In view of the situation you may think it desirable to have more permanent contact maintained between the Administration and the group of physicists working on chain reactions in America. One possible way of achieving this might be for you to entrust with this task a person who has your confidence and who could perhaps serve in an inofficial capacity. His task might comprise the following:

a) to approach Government Departments, keep them informed of the further development, and put forward recommendations for Government action, giving particular attention to the problem of securing a supply of uranium ore for the United States;

b) to speed up the experimental work,which is at present being carried on within the limits of the budgets of University laboratories, by providing funds, if such funds be required, through his contacts with yprivate persons who are willing to make contributions for this cause, and perhaps also by obtaining the co-operation of industrial laboratories which have the necessary equipment.

I understand that Germany has actually stopped the sale of uranium from the Czechoslovakian mines which she has taken over. That she should have taken such early action might perhaps be understood on the ground that the son of the German Under-Secretary of State, von Weizsäcker, is attached to the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Institut in Berlin where some of the American work on uranium is now being repeated.

Yours very truly,

(Albert Einstein)


March 7, 1940

I wish to draw your attention to the development which has taken place since the conference that was arranged through your good offices in October last year between scientists engaged in this work and governmental representatives.

Last year, when I realized that results of national importance might arise out of research on uranium, I thought it my duty to inform the administration of this possibility. You will perhaps remember that in the letter which I addressed to the President I also mentioned the fact that C. F. von Weizsäcker, son of the German Undersecretary of State, was collaborating with a group of chemists working upon uranium at one of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institutes - namely, the Institute of Chemistry.

Since the outbreak of the war, interest in uranium has intensified in Germany. I have now learned that research there is carried out in great secrecy and that it has been extended to another of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institutes, the Institute of Physics. The latter has been taken over by the government and a group of physicists, under the leadership of C. F. von Weizsäcker, who is now working there on uranium in collaboration with the Institute of Chemistry. The former director was sent away on leave of absence, apparently for the duration of the war.

Should you think it advisable to relay this information to the President, please consider yourself free to do so. Will you be kind enough to let me know if you are taking action in this direction?

Dr. Szilard has shown me the manuscript which he is sending to the Physics Review in which he describes in detail a method of setting up a chain reaction in uranium. The papers will appear in print unless they are held up, and the question arises whether something ought to be done to withhold publication.

I have discussed with professor Wigner of Princeton University the situation in the light of the information available. Dr. Szilard will let you have a memorandum informing you of the progress made since October last year so that you will be able to take such action as you think in the circumstances advisable. You will see that the line he has pursued is different and apparently more promising than the line pursued by M. Joliot in France, about whose work you may have seen reports in the papers.



April 25, 1940

I am convinced as to the wisdom and the urgency of creating the conditions under which that and related work can be carried out with greater speed and on a larger scale than hitherto. I was interested in a suggestion made by Dr. Sachs that the Special Advisory Committee supply names of persons to serve as a board of trustees for a nonprofit organization which, with the approval of the government committee, could secure from governmental or private sources or both, the necessary funds for carrying out the work. Given such a framework and the necessary funds, it (the large-scale experiments and exploration of practical applications) could be carried out much faster than through a loose cooperation of university laboratories and government departments.


(This letter failed to reach President Roosevelt before his death on April 12, 1945.)

March 25, 1945

Princeton, New Jersey

The Honorable Franklin Delano Roosevelt
President of the United States
The White House
Washington, D.C.


I am writing to introduce Dr. L. Szilard who proposes to submit to you certain consideration and recommendation. Unusual circumstances which I shall describe further below introduce me to take this action in spite of the fact that I do not know the substance of the considerations and recommendations which Dr. Szilard proposes to submit to you.

In the summer of 1939 Dr. Szilard put before me his views concerning the potential importance of uranium for national defense. He was greatly disturbed by the potentialities involved and anxious that the United States Government be advised of them as soon as possible. Dr. Szilard, who is one of the discoverers of the neutron emission of uranium on which all present work on uranium is based, described to me a specific system which he devised and which he thought would make it possible to set up a chain reaction in unseparated uranium in the immediate future. Having known him for over twenty years both from his scientific work and personally, I have much confidence in his judgment and it was on the basis of his judgment as well as my own that I took the liberty to approach you in connection with this subject. You responded to my letter dated August 2, 1939 by the appointment of a committee under the chairmanship of Dr. Briggs and thus started the Government's activity in this field.

The terms of secrecy under which Dr. Szilard is working at present do not permit him to give me information about his work; however, I understand that he now is greatly concerned about the lack of adequate contact between scientists who are doing this work and those members of your Cabinet who are responsible for formulating policy. In the circumstances I consider it my duty to give Dr. Szilard this introduction and I wish to express the hope that you will be able to give his presentation of the case your personal attention.

Very truly yours,

(A. Einstein)


Enfants perdus

The years 1665 and 1666 were not a great time to be in London.

While it was not as virulent as the Black Death which swept Europe in the 14th Century, The Great Plague of London of 1665 – bubonic plague carried by fleas – killed 100,000 persons, or 20 percent of the city's population.

The following year, on Sunday, 2 September 1666, a fire started in a bakery and for four days swept across London.

Quoting Wikipedia: “The Great Fire of London was a major conflagration that swept through the central parts of the English city of London, from Sunday, 2 September to Wednesday, 5 September 1666. The fire gutted the medieval City of London inside the old Roman City Wall. It threatened, but did not reach, the aristocratic district of Westminster, Charles II's Palace of Whitehall and most of the suburban slums. It consumed 13,200 houses, 87 parish churches, St. Paul's Cathedral and most of the buildings of the City authorities. It is estimated that it destroyed the homes of 70,000 of the City's 80,000 inhabitants. The death toll from the fire is unknown and is traditionally thought to have been small, as only six verified deaths were recorded. This reasoning has recently been challenged on the grounds that the deaths of poor and middle-class people were not recorded anywhere, and that the heat of the fire might have cremated many victims, leaving no recognisable remains.”

During these back-to-back disasters, Daniel Defoe was a little boy, who had played on the streets of London, perhaps daydreaming about being marooned on an island. Samuel Pepys was a young man of 33, writing about these events in his diary. John Milton was laboring over his manuscript of “Paradise Lost,” to be published a year later in 1667. John Bunyan was in prison.

One can only wonder how many children perished who might have given the world great works, how many daydreams never found their way to print, how many works in progress were lost, how many unknown artists and musicians and writers never had a chance at fame.

It was the worst of times, and for what survived, the best of times.


OMST in a huff

My dear DemWit:

Thank you for sending the LINK to Parsley’s Pics and your friend Leslie’s post on the grammatically challenged Tennessee gubernatorial candidate.

Honey, that one blew my crinolines up!

The candidate’s claim of 13 3/4 years of education speaks volumes about the inadequacies of our education system. Is this a trend among candidates to emulate the Texas goober who spent eight years in the Oval Office?

Leslie's post and this headline on gallup.com this morning jarred me into writing:

“Assessing the Affect of the Afghanistan Documents Leak”

How hard is it to remember: AFFECT is a verb. EFFECT is a noun. This headline affected my blood pressure, and I hope it has the same effect on DemWit’s readers!

Equally painful is the attempt to be so grammatically precise that one gets it wrong. Here’s an example of a common error that drives me NUTS!

The candidate handed his brochure to Mary and I.

Leave out the other recipient:

Wrong: The candidate handed his brochure to I.
Right: The candidate handed his brochure to me.

Such a simple test, but I see this error constantly!

I must remember to write more often, my dear. I think the kids running all these online news sites must come off an assembly line in Atlanta.

Stay cool.




'Jesus wept.' John 11:35

I have read the following CNN article a number of times – with great sadness of heart because I have experienced the same feelings, with one distinction.

Writer Anne Rice has “quit” Christianity.

I would assert that Ms. Rice, in her condemnation, is confusing Christianity with its various denominations.

When I was a child of 10 I was baptized and joined a church of the Southern Baptist Convention. When I was a little older, I read Herschel H. Hobbs’ “Fundamentals of our Faith” – the four cornerstones of the Southern Baptists’ credo – and fully agreed with them.

In the mid-1980s I sat at an editorial desk and read documentation of a fundamentalist takeover of the boards of trustees of the SBC’s colleges and seminaries – and eventually the SBC itself. At that point, as I have said, I didn’t leave my church; my church left me.

The SBC also left its former president Herschel Hobbs – a man of wisdom and insight - expelling all his writings and his struggles, which had left such a powerful mark on our faith.

Dr. Hobbs held a Ph.D. in New Testament interpretation. He knew His stuff. At the hands of fundamentalists, enlightenment was systematically snuffed.

I hope you will read Ms. Rice’s words through to the end. I believe they will give DemWit’s readers, regardless of their system of belief, an idea of the toll fundamentalism and the Religious Right are taking on the religion claiming to be based on Jesus Christ’s ministry.

The article:

Legendary author Anne Rice has announced that she’s quitting Christianity.

The “Interview with a Vampire” author, who wrote a book about her spirituality titled "Called Out of Darkness: A Spiritual Confession" in 2008, said Wednesday that she refuses to be “anti-gay,” “anti-feminist," “anti-science” and “anti-Democrat.”

Rice wrote, “For those who care, and I understand if you don't: Today I quit being a Christian ... It's simply impossible for me to ‘belong’ to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. For ten years, I've tried. I've failed. I'm an outsider. My conscience will allow nothing else.”

Read on …

Rice then added another post explaining her decision on Thursday:

“My faith in Christ is central to my life. My conversion from a pessimistic atheist lost in a world I didn't understand, to an optimistic believer in a universe created and sustained by a loving God is crucial to me," Rice wrote. "But following Christ does not mean following His followers. Christ is infinitely more important than Christianity and always will be, no matter what Christianity is, has been or might become.”


Much to ponder.