Friday, January 10, 2014

Sinful World

“The sad duty of politics is to establish justice in a sinful world. Reinhold Niebuhr

New Jersey governor Chris Christie is in hot water after aides arranged to have several lanes leading to the George Washington Bridge closed for several days, causing a massive traffic jam, in retaliation against Democratic officials.  After first denying everything, now Christie says he’s humiliated and fired the person responsible, Bridget Anne Kelly.  The original story claimed the cause was the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee, Mark Sokolich, refusing to endorse him in last November’s election.  While that seems far-fetched, Rachel Maddow claims that it had to do with a fight between the Governor and the Democratic leader of the State Senate, Loretta Weinberg, who represents Fort Lee.  In 2011, in an unprecedented action, Christie refused to reappoint N.J. Supreme Court justice John E. Wallace, an African American.  Since then, the Senate has refused to confirm any Christie nominees.  The email requesting “traffic problems in Fort Lee” occurred just a day after Christie blew up at a press conference and called the Senate Democrats “animals.”  It will be interesting to see if this derails Christie’s presidential ambitions.
 William Ruckelshaus sworn in as EPA administrator
I drew a blank when a researcher who came across my blog inquired whether I had information on William Ruckelshaus and connections to Northwest Indiana.  Best known for being one of the Saturday Night Massacre victims while serving as Richard Nixon’s Deputy Attorney General, moderate Republican like fellow Hoosier Dick Lugar, Ruckelshaus was born in Indianapolis in 1932 and after twice losing Congressional bids (including garnering an impressive 48% of the vote against Birch Bayh in 1968), he served as EPA administrator and Acting FBI director.  A staunch environmentalist, he answered a call from President Clinton to be American envoy in the implementation of a Pacific Salmon Treaty.  Ruckelshaus endorsed Barack Obama for President in 2008.
 Soul Stirrers
Henry Farag has put together a musical entitled “The Signal: A Rhapsody” about his lifetime fascination with doo wop music starting with hearing Vivian Carter on WWCA radio playing songs by the Spaniels and Dells.  Members of The Souls Stirrers, The Spaniels and Stormy Weather have already participated in rehearsals, and Henry is hoping to put it on for free at IUN’s theater on Grant Street, where managers of larger venues could preview it.  I promised I’s contact David Klamen, head of Performing Arts.  It would be great to get students interests and possibly visiting theater scholar Mark Spencer.
Making use of Mardi Gras beads, Stephan Wanger brought his Bead Town exhibit to Gardner Center in Miller.  To raise money for the Miller Beach Arts and Creative District Sue Rutsen and George Rogge are hosting a Mardi Gras Party at the Vigo Street mansion.  Corey Hagelberg, who installed Wanger’s show, dropped by to chat, as he was on campus getting ready for his Fine Arts class next week.  I invited him to have lunch Tuesdays and Thursdays with Anne Balay, Jon Briggs, and me at the Little Redhawk Café.

I started Mary Bosenquet biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer to get ready for Monday’s History book Club.  A Lutheran theologian, Bonhoeffer participated in a 1943 plot to assassinate Hitler and was executed just three weeks before Germany surrendered to the Allied powers.  During a yearlong stay in America Bonhoeffer studied under Reinhold Niebuhr and heard rev. Adam Clayton Powell, Sr., preach, an experience that made him sensitive to economic inequality and social injustice.

The National Museum of the American Indian sent us six bookmarks honoring notable Native American leaders, including warrior Quannah Parker.  One is told (and I only learned about the Commanche leader a couple years ago) that “Parker wore his hair in traditional braids, had 8 wives – 5 at one time – served as ceremonial leader in the Native-American Church, and opposed privatization of tribally held lands.”

Ira Katznelson’s provocative “Fear Itself: The New Deal and the Origins of Our Time” discusses compromises FDR made with Southern segregationists to enact economic reforms and wartime measures.  As a result, segregation prevailed in Southern relief agencies and in the military during World War II.  In addition, the origins of the Red Scare can be found in committees such as HUAC championed by Southern legislators. Writing in New York Review of Books, Nicholas Lemann concludes: “Katznelson argues persuasively that the basic political order of the United States was remade during the New deal: government’s role expanded, but only up to a point, domestically, and expanded almost without limit militarily.”

Now that the weather reached the mid-30s meteorologists are warning of flooding and ice fog, whatever that is.  The roads, thank goodness, are clear for now despite more snow Thursday.

I talked with Paul Kern on the phone and promised to take his eulogy to Jack Gruenenfelder's son and daughter at Burns Funeral Home.

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