Well, folks, it’s today. It’s a big day for American statesmen. Today Aaron Burr, who lived in a time when it was acceptable to be both Vice President and a murderer, was indicted for treason today. He remains the only Vice President to be indicted for treason, which is a fringe benefit of the Kerry/Edwards ticket losing. Today is also the day, in 1856, that Congressman Preston Brooks of South Carolina walked over to Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts right there on the floor of the Senate and beat him with a cane without mercy. It seems the Senator made a speech condemning slavery that the Congressman took offense to, because the Congressman preferred human bondage to paying a fair wage and decided to voice his opposition in the form of swift strokes with a cane. In his defense, the Congressman did ask for a motion from the speaker, “Mr. Speaker, I move to beat the Senator from Massachusetts with this here cane without mercy.” Unbelievably, despite committing assault on the floor of the U.S. Senate resulted in very little political retribution for Brooks, who was not removed from office and voted to another term (though he died less than a year later). Fox News said the beating showed “real leadership.” By the way, Brooksville, Florida and Brooks County, Georgia are named in the Congressman’s honor, though the names were changed from Would-Beat-A-Man-To-Continue-To-Not-Pay-My-Workforce-ville, Florida and Wrong-Side-Of-History County, Georgia. Today, Mexico entered World War II, causing Hitler to shit himself. “Vhat! Unt Mexico es unvulved now! Vee shuld rezink zis whole zing, you guys.” Speaking of World War II, Ted Williams enlisted in the Marine Corps today, starting a three-year service, which possibly cost him the all-time RBI record but helped the Marine Corp, which had a dearth of left-handed bats in their line-up.
Richard Wagner, who loved leitmotifs but hated Jews, was born today. I have an uneasy admiration for Wagner’s music, which is some of the most intense and beautiful ever written, but it’s difficult to divorce its majesty from the odious undertones of miscegenation and racial superiority that creeps up in his writing and opera narratives. Of course, Wagner isn’t the only great artist to be less than great in other areas and I believe the world is a richer place because of his music but his outspoken association with disgusting worldviews makes it impossible to enjoy him without reservations. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was born today as was the great Polish-American ball player Al Simmons and Harvey Milk (it is Harvey Milk Day in California). Laurence Olivier, the great actor, and Morrissey, the great asshole, were born today.