The Fan

In an interview with H. Allen Smith, recounted in his book Low Man On A Totem Pole, ©1941, Sally Rand said she invented the Fan Dance as a way to skirt obscenity laws.  Nudity was allowed on stage as long as the person was motionless, but nude dancing was prohibited.  Her plan was to conceal herself as she danced, then periodically strike a pose with the fans open- “vogueing” sixty years before Madonna.

For the most part the police weren’t concerned with the finer points of the law, so she was still arrested pretty regularly.

(In this clip she is wearing a swimsuit, so nobody should be scandalized.)


“It will be important, if the Democratic party succumbs to Wall Street domination, to have a new party to let the people of the world know that those who believe in peace and understanding still have some means of expression… It would provide evidence that the United States has not gone completely imperialistic and psychopathic.”  ~Henry A. Wallace, 1947

Barnum and Roosevelt

Excerpted from  American Dreamer by John C. Culver and John Hyde ©2000:

The war made national unity imperative, and Roosevelt felt he must appear to be above politics.  To that end he decided he had to be drafted by the Democratic convention.  The call must be spontaneous, and, if possible, unanimous.

I guess reality has never had a place in politics.

I do not think that is a good thing.

“The most devilish thing imaginable.”

In 1945, captured German scientists were secretly recorded discussing the recent American bombing of Hiroshima:

WEIZSÄCKER: History will record that the Americans and the English made a bomb, and that at the same time the Germans, under the HITLER regime, produced a workable engine.  In other words, the peaceful development of the uranium engine was made in GERMANY under the HITLER regime, whereas the Americans and the English developed this ghastly weapon of war.

[ . . . ]

7. In a conversation between WIRTZ, VON WEIZSÄCKER and HEISENBERG,HEISENBERG repeated that in July 1944 a senior SS official had come to him and asked him whether he seriously believed that the Americans could produce an atomic bomb. He said he had told him that in his opinion it was absolutely possible as the Americans could work much better and quicker than they could. VON WEIZSÄCKER again expressed horror at the use of the weapon and HEISENBERG replied that had they produced and dropped such a bomb they would certainly have been executed as War Criminals having made the “most devilish thing imaginable”.

You can download the 12-page transcript in PDF form HERE.

1948, I’d like you to meet 2016:

In this excerpt from Henry Wallace, Harry Truman, and the Cold War by Richard J. Walton ©1976, try (just for fun) replacing “Harry Truman” with “Hillary Clinton,” and “Henry Wallace” with “Bernie Sanders”:

This was a serious man raising serious questions and this is as good a time as any to deal with them. (J. Raymond) Walsh, and (Henry) Wallace, had to face two age-old political dilemmas: do you fight more effectively from within than from without; is it better to accept the lesser evil or refuse to accept either? As to the first part of the question, many prominent American political figures in recent decades have had to make that choice. All chose to stay, none was effective in changing policy, and they deprived the American people of the healthful public debate that would have resulted had they quit in protest. Dozens of upper-level figures in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, for example, claimed or let it be understood that they were doing all they could to change policy regarding Vietnam, but none was willing to sacrifice his political future my making a public fight. To put personal future above political conscience is, sad to say, a long American tradition. Unlike these other men, Wallace felt, as Josiah Gitt put it, that he was “honor bound” to force a public debate.

Wallace had tried within the party to cause Truman to modify his “get-tough” policy (with Russia). There was nothing more he could do by remaining within the party than to become an increasingly ignored scold. As to domestic policy, Truman had already begun to move back toward FDR’s policies, whether in response to Wallace or as a pragmatic, bread-and-butter strategy, once cannot be certain, possibly both.

As to the lesser-evil theory, it was a tough question for Wallace sympathizers and was a more difficult philosophical and practical question than the choice between forcing a public debate and keeping quiet. It is an impossible dilemma for a progressive when both parties nominate unacceptable men. If he elects the marginally superior man, he prevents necessary change. If he does not, he gets the worse candidate and still no change. That was the dilemma faced by such progressives as J. Raymond Walsh in 1948. They did not want Truman and they did not want a Republican. But in 1948 party loyalty, with the memory of FDR still fresh, was much stronger among Democrats than it has been in recent years. So these progressives thought wistfully of Wallace, swallowed hard, and supported Truman. There were not unprincipled men and women copping out, but people making the only choice they thought they could make. To them, whose last Republican Presidents were Hoover and Coolidge, it was simply unthinkable to do anything that might result in a Republican victory.

O’er e’en

The March of Xerxes
Luigi Alamanni
Translated by Sir Aubrey de Vere

WHEN in the wantonness of kingly pride,
Vain Xerxes spurred his war-horse through the tide,
And bore his fleet o’er mountain-tops,—e’en there
The Eternal bade his evil heart despair:
O’er Hellespont and Athos’ marble head,
More than a god he came, less than a man he fled.

Xerces was a Persian ruler who invaded Greece about five centuries before Jesus was born.

There’s something refreshing to me about the honesty of the time.  He didn’t jump through rhetorical hoops to show that offense was really defense, or pretend that he was all about freeing an oppressed people;  he simply wanted their stuff and intended to take it.  He may have been kind of grabby, but he was unflinchingly honest about it.

As he assembled his army and marched off there was an eclipse, which was taken to be a Very Bad Omen by his advisors, but he had a full head of steam worked up and pressed on.  Then along the way a horse gave birth to a rabbit, and again his advisors said “You know, this means something,” but he insisted everything was fine and pressed on.

He finally met the Greeks at The Battle of Salamis, and- as the omens predicted- he was soundly defeated.  The soldiers who didn’t die in battle died of starvation and dysentery during the ignoble retreat homeward.

But eventually we got a good poem out of it.

You can read about Xerces HERE.