Archive for May, 2008

Estes Kefauver Was a Blithering Idiot

Thursday, May 8th, 2008

Interesting article at CNN on a nearly forgotten chapter of twentieth century history: the Great Comic Book Scare:

World War II was over, but as the 1940s gave way to the 1950s, a new evil lurked in the land. Ten-Cent Plague

It attracted a youthful audience — boys, mostly — who fell victim to its colorful images, dripping in red, and gave money to its purveyors.

Authorities took notice. The United States had a new menace, they said, one whose name started with “c” and whose first syllable rhymed with “bomb.”

Comic books.

At the time comic books were very popular among youth, perhaps because they were quite good at pushing the envelope. Comics of the time frequently featured gory violence, attractive (if unrealistically drawn) women, and controversial social commentary. A few years before Elvis shocked the world on the Ed Sullivan show, do-gooders and politicians believed comic books were corrupting the youth. A well-meaning but goofy psychiatrist named Frederic Wertham even wrote a book (sensationally entitled Seduction of the Innocent in which he argued that comics were responsible for juvenile delinquency.

Across America comic book burnings were held. Entire cities banned the sale of comic books. Tennessee’s very own Democratic Senator Estes Kefauver, fresh off his hearings on organized crime, took the logical next step in his anti-crime crusade and launched a Senate inquiry on comic books and their effects on children. He brought in Wertham himself, as well as Bill Gaines, boss of the popular and controversial EC comics line, proving that the wasting of taxpayer money by the federal government is hardly a new problem.

All in all, it was a very strange time. If any of this sounds interesting, you should definitely read The Ten-Cent Plague by David Hajdu. I read it over the weekend and loved it. A true story of mass hysteria, it is both amusing and frightening.

UPDATE: No, I don’t really think Kefauver was an idiot. The title of this post is a bit of hyperbole. Kefauver did some good things while in the Senate, but on this issue I do think he was out to lunch.

Clinton for VP?

Thursday, May 8th, 2008

George Stephanopoulos thinks Hillary Clinton is staying in the race to position herself for a VP spot on Obama’s ticket. Obama supporter (and unorthodox conservative) Andrew Sullivan also thinks Hillary might settle for the number two spot. Given that a significant number of Hillary supports claim they won’t vote for Obama there is a certain logic here.

If Hillary Clinton is, by some miracle, able to win the Democratic nomination, I suspect she will almost have to pick Obama as her runningmate to blunt the anger from African-Americans over what would almost certainly be seen (probably correctly, in my opinion) as a stolen nomination.

I wouldn’t be shocked if Obama does pick Hillary, but I would be very surprised. One of Obama’s great appeals is his status as a “unifier”. Now given Jeremiah Wright that status has diminished somewhat but not completely. Picking a figure as divisive as Hillary would almost certainly destroy this selling point.

Then off course there’s the fact that Obama and Hillary despise each other. That isn’t a deal killer; after all, we all know Bill Clinton and Al Gore were not great friends. Neither were JFK and LBJ or Eisenhower and Nixon. But the Obama-Hillary hatred is out in the open. No one is ever going to believe they’re best friends.

And finally, there’s the Bill Clinton problem. Need I say more?

So as you can see, I don’t put much stock in the idea of Obama picking Hillary as his runningmate. It’s possible, but not very likely. Of course, I have been wrong before.

Bell Witch Cave Recognized

Thursday, May 8th, 2008

The legendary Bell Witch Cave has been added to the National Register of Historic Places. You can read an article I wrote on the Bell Witch here.

Via Michael Silence

Gay Nudists Are Coming!

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008

It looks like my hometown of Harriman might soon boast a gay nudist resort:

A small Harriman community may seem like the last place for an adult only, alternative lifestyle, nudist resort, but an investor from Ohio says it’s perfect.

The Rosebud Lodge Resort and Campground would cater to the gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and trans-gender community.

The resort is planned to be built on 60 acres of property along the Clinch River on Skyline Drive.

However, the property still needs to be rezoned as a commercial area.

I personally don’t care if it opens or not. It seems to me there are more important things to worry about. But I suspect the county commission will refuse to rezone the property, thus killing the deal.

Podcast Appalachia: “King Coal”

Thursday, May 1st, 2008

The latest episode of Podcast Appalachia is now available! In this episode I look at coal. No rock has been more influential or more controversial in Appalachian society than coal; while helping fuel unprecedented economic growth in America and employment for generations of mountain people, it is also very dangerous to mine and has done much damage to the environment. In this episode I present a history of coal mining, as well as discuss the advantages and disadvantages associated with it. You may listen here or view a transcript here.