I’m leaving this one up to my readers. What was the most egregious moment?
Monthly Archive for January, 2014
(Source omitted to discourage Googling; acknowledgements will come next week).
You have a sealed lockbox about a cubic yard in volume, containing $100,000 in hundred dollar bills. Your balance scale tells you that the box (with the money inside) weighs 100 pounds. You give the box to your friend Al, who flies it to the moon, while you, along with your balance scale, follow in a separate vehicle. Upon arrival, you retrieve the sealed box, put it on the balance scale and verify that it still weighs 100 pounds. You then give the box to your friend Barb, who loads it into her all-terrain vehicle and drives it to your moonbase, with you following along, again in a separate vehicle. When you get to the moonbase, Barb returns your lockbox. You open it and it’s empty.
Who stole your money, Al or Barb?
I’ve been reading about the passage of the 1957 Civil Rights Bill, which, in its original form, banned racial segregation in theaters, restaurants and hotels (though by the time it was passed, almost all of the content had been stripped out). There’s a part of this history that makes no sense to me and I’m wondering if someone can explain it.
Remember first that this was at a time when several southern states enforced laws that mandated segregation in theaters, restaurants and hotels.
It was also at a time when, as I understand it, the outcome of the legislative battle was very much in doubt, so that each side feared the worst and was eager to compromise. Supporters weren’t sure they could beat a filibuster, which meant the bill might never even come to a vote. Opponents feared a filibuster might be beaten and the bill passed without amendments.
Lyndon Johnson, the majority leader of the Senate, wanted above all else to avoid a major fight, and was eager to facilitate any compromise both sides could agree on. He floated several compromise proposals and actively solicited others, from legislators, attorneys, and everyone else he could think of.
In Master of the Senate, the third in his three-volume biography of Lyndon Johnson, Robert Caro describes a vast number of compromises that failed before the passage of the final successful compromise.
Now here’s what astonishes me: Here you had all these lawyers and politicians, desperately trying to find a creative compromise — and yet, as far as I can tell, nobody ever proposed the compromise that seems (to me) to be obvious. The Republicans and northerners wanted mandatory integration. The southerners wanted to maintain mandatory segregation. The obvious compromise, I should think, would be to have neither — the northerners agree not to pass a federal law, and the southerners agree to repeal some state laws.