Voice of America, 1953

from Larry Tye’s Demagogue: The Life and Long Shadow of Sen. Joe McCarthy, Chapter 6:

  • Kaplan was an engineer at the Voice of America and the liaison with MIT on the radio transmitter project that Senator McCarthy was slamming as an instance of deliberate sabotage of America’s propaganda war with the Russians. In the heat of those hearings, early in 1953, Kaplan traveled to Cambridge to talk to the Voice’s MIT advisers. Co-workers say it was a fraught mission for the anxious Kaplan, who, despite the fact that he was merely a middleman, had long worried that he might be dragged into the controversy over the siting of the towers. When he got to MIT, the researchers who could clear things up weren’t available to meet with him. Kaplan came unglued. As he was leaving campus, Henry Burke was driving down the street in his ten-ton trailer truck. “I saw him standing on the sidewalk as if he was ready to cross, Burke told the police later. “I slowed the truck. When (I) got near him, he jumped in front of it.”

Kaplan was, Tye writes, “a fragile target,” under pressure in many areas, not the least of which was a sick wife.

Sen. Joe McCarthy blamed Kaplan’s death on “sinister forces.”

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Introducing the Completely “Unhinged” Senator Joe McCarthy

  • … McCarthy came unhinged in a way unimaginable to most Americans. He ceased even pretending to care about the rights of the accused, whom he summarily declared guilty. He held one-man hearings, in violation of long-standing Senate tradition. When he was absent, his poorly trained, sophomoric staffers leapt in to badger witnesses on his behalf. — from the Preface to Demagogue: The Life and Long Shadow of Senator Joe McCarthy, by Larry Tye

When self was reading the above, she had to keep reminding herself that this book was not about Trump (All McCarthy’s papers were donated to his alma mater, Marquette University, by McCarthy’s widow, “sixty years ago.” Anyone can read them.) What legacy of documents will Trump leave, self wonders, and to which university? Years from now, someone will access them and write a book, just like Tye is doing now.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

More from the Preface to DEMAGOGUE: The Life and Long Shadow of Senator Joe McCarthy

It’s not often that a man’s name becomes an ism, in this case a synonym for reckless accusation, guilt by association, fear-mongering, and political double-dealing. In the early 1950s, the senator from Wisconsin promised America a holy war against a Communist “conspiracy so immense and an infamy so black as to dward any previous such venture in the history of man.” While the conspiracy and infamy claims were a stretch, the body count was measurable: a TV broadcaster, a government engineer, current and former US senators, and incalculable others who committed suicide to escape McCarthy and his warriors; hundreds more whose careers he crushed; and the hundreds of thousands he browbeat into a tongue-tied silence.

DEMAGOGUE: The Life and Long Shadow of Senator Joe McCarthy, by Larry Tye

from the Preface:

This is a book about America’s love affair with bullies.

Political Reads for This Fall

These are exciting times. Self is reading The Charterhouse of Parma (Brilliant and funny and moving).

Five on her ‘To-Read’ List

  • The Nickel Boys, by Colson Whitehead
  • Surrender, White People! Our Unconditional Terms for Peace, by D. L. Hughley
  • Demagogue: The Life and Long Shadow of Senator Joe McCarthy, by Larry Tye
  • In West Mills, by De’Shawn Charles Wilson
  • The Prince of Mournful Thoughts and Other Stories, by Drue Heinz Literature Prize winner Caroline Kim

Sentence of the Day: Evan Thomas

The Lazy B got about ten inches a year, barely enough, and in some years not that.

— p. 9, First: Sandra Day O’Connor

The first female justice on the US Supreme Court grew up on a cattle ranch called the Lazy B in Arizona, and the ranch hands (most from Mexico) named their horses Hysterectomy, Hemorrhoid, Idiot, and in one case, Swastika (in jest, self is sure)

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Monday Read: THE FILIPINOS: PORTRAIT OF A PEOPLE, by Manuel D. Duldulao

p. 13: “the past comes rushing back . . . ”

  • On election day, in full view of more than 700 foreign and local journalists, and millions of concerned citizens, Marcos’s men ripped up ballots, bought others and muzzled voters. As many as three million names were stricken off the voters’ list.

p. 16 features a description of self’s favorite Filipino dessert, halo-halo (Literal Translation: mix-mix):

  • This delicacy, served in a tall sundae glass, contains diced bananas, sweet mango, chickpeas, kidney beans, strands of macapuno (the succulent meat of a variety of coconut) — all of these in syrup — plus pinipig (kernels of crisp and delectable rice), mongo beans, corn, langka (jackfruit), sweet potato, jello, ube (purple yam preserves), and leche flan.

HUNGRY.

2020 in Books

Self had an unbelievable string of great reads, in the spring. Here were the books she read:

  • Someone Who Will Love You In All Your Damaged Glory, by Rafael Bob-Waksberg
  • The Goblin Emperor, by Katherine Addison
  • I Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith
  • The Run of His Life: The People vs O. J. Simpson, by Jeffrey Toobin
  • Children of Time, by Adrian Tchaikovsky
  • Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh

After that run, she stumbled on The Expanse, and has so far read four novels in the series (The ninth is supposed to appear either this year or next. Ha!), all of them super-engaging. Highly recommend!

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

3rd Monday in June 2020: Still Reading The Uninhabitable Earth

Self is reading fast as none of the arguments are new.

  • “We think of climate change as slow, but it is unnervingly fast.” — p. 198

There is a big, big elephant in the room, which is the impact of Greta Thunberg, who is never mentioned. (She shows up, finally, on p. 257)

  • “Any number of dead is a tragedy, but more than 10,000 die each day, globally, from the small–particulate pollution produced by burning carbon.” — p. 203

Never in a million years, at the time this book was published (2019) could anyone have imagined that a pandemic and the need to find a vaccine would soon eclipse climate change in urgency.


Back from picking up prescriptions (which always require a doctor’s visit: $162). She catches a Gavin Newsom presser. He’s addressing the ongoing need for masks. This morning, self asked the doctor if he had a test. He did, but it cost $150. He reassured her that all of the patients he’d tested had tested negative.

“Do they all live in the area?” she asked.

“Some of them,” he said.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

 

The Sea, Our Mother

Self has many thoughts about the sea because … well, she comes from one of the 7,100 islands of the Philippines.

When she visited Venice, some years back, she encountered the Maritime Museum (off San Marco Plaza), and first encountered the Venetian expression “married to the sea.”

In the writings about the sea, the sea is referred to as feminine. Also, mercurial.

Perhaps this is why she chose to write her novel. It’s about the sea, of course. And she’s been reading about seafarers ever since.

Two years ago, she was teaching in Mendocino. One of her favorite hangouts was Gallery Bookshop, corner of Albion and Kasten in Mendocino Village (the most fabulous bookstore, with its own resident cat). She found a book written by a retired US Admiral.

She just started reading it (thank you, Corona Virus). Sea Power: The History and Geopolitics of the World’s Oceans

The Introductory Chapter is called The Sea Is One:

It is worth remembering that each of us is, essentially, largely made of water. When a human baby is born, it is composed of roughly 70 percent water. It has always fascinated me that roughly the same proportion of the globe is covered by water — just over 70 percent. Both our planet and our bodies are dominated by the liquid world, and anyone who has sailed extensively at sea will understand instinctively the primordial tug of the oceans upon each of us when we look upon the sea.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

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