On this day in 12, the crazy emperor Caligula was born. The French Classical composer Jean Paul Egide Martini was born in 1741. Here is his Plaisir d’Amour, which sounds a lot like The Magic Flute to me:
Two great musicians are 68 today. The first is Van Morrison. I had wanted to put up “Have I Told You Lately” but he insists that it isn’t a religious song and that annoys me. So here he is doing “Days Like This”:
The second great musician is Itzhak Perlman. Here he is performing Tchaikovsky’s showy Valse Scherzo:
Actor Richard Gere is 64. I have nothing against the man, but his being in a movie is often enough to make me not watch it. The hilarious Julie Brown is 55. Here she is doing what is now a golden oldie, “The Homecoming Queen’s Got a Gun”:
If you will stay with me for a moment, Julie Brown has a fine YouTube channel. And she clearly has a problem with Victoria Jackson, which is especially cool because Victoria Jackson is a horrible person. Here is Victoria Jackson Reacts to the Election!
And actor Chris Tucker is 41.
The day, however, belongs to the journalist Daniel Schorr who was born on this day in 1916. He was a very important television journalist when they still had them. (Just kidding! When they still had a lot of them. How about that?) He is famous, for example, for releasing the Pike Committee report on illegal CIA and FBI activities in 1976. He was also number 17 on Richard Nixon’s enemies list!
But I mostly know Schorr from his editorials on NPR during the first years of the century when I was having my liberal awakening. What I liked about him was that while he was clearly and proudly liberal, he was not especially partisan. He was one of those old time New Deal Democrats who calmly watched as the whole center of gravity of American politics moved ever to the right—even if the people didn’t. Here is an example of this, his 15 December 2000 editorial in the Christian Science Monitor about the Supreme Court’s decision in Bush Vs. Gore:
Admitting to something short of cool dispassion, I marvel at the way the gang of five, led by arch-conservative Antonin Scalia, tried to camouflage their 5-to-4 operation behind a nominal 7-to-2 agreement that there was a problem with the Florida recount. That seemed to leave open the chance of fixing the system. Their fix was in, all right, but a different fix. It suppressed the recount for good.
Any one of these five could have returned the contest to limbo. But none did. Decades of conservative support of states’ rights, by overturning federal statutes from affirmative action to federal review of criminal cases, went out the window in an arrogation of authority to judge voting in Florida.
The tactics were adroit. First, the junta on Saturday halted the vote count. That enabled them to say on Tuesday that there was no more time left for vote-counting.
One thing about Tony Scalia is that he levels with you. Not every justice would say, as he did Saturday, that issuing the voting stay suggested Bush had “a substantial probability of success.” Not every justice would own up to partisanship by saying the recounted votes “threaten irreparable harm to petitioner”—Governor Bush—”and to the country.”
Justice Stevens, for the embattled minority of himself, Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and David Souter, said on Saturday that halting the vote recount “will inevitably cast a cloud on the legitimacy of the election.” Tuesday he said we may never know who was the winner of the presidential race, but “the identity of the loser is perfectly clear. It is the nation’s confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the rule of law.” …
That legitimacy has been endangered by the court’s intervention into the white-hot controversy over the presidency that opened the court to suspicion of partisanship. Before this issue arose there were suggestions of partisanship. Mr. Bush referred to Scalia and Clarence Thomas as models for the kind of justices he would name. Chief Justice Rehnquist and Justice O’Connor reportedly said they would like to retire under Bush to ensure being succeeded by conservatives. But now, these five have had a banner day. They have selected a president.
(For the record, I suspect that Sandra Day O’Connor regrets stepping down as she did. Two things helped that along. She stepped down and then Rehnquist died. That put more of Bush on the court than she likely hoped for. Second, she was replaced with Samuel Alito, a judge she smacked down when he was on the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. In addition, since leaving the court, she has made a number of telling comments. The most notable was her “dissent” on the Citizens United case. But isn’t this all exactly what we expect from conservatives? When they have power, they are full tilt evil. When out of power, they suddenly come to their senses. I think it has to do with the authoritarian mindset and its desire to always follow orders. Anyway, she’s fucked the country good!)
Happy birthday Daniel Schorr!