Friday, November 24, 2017

Guest Post: Economic Localism Is No Better than Economic Nationalism

The best path toward enriching everyone is allowing everyone to trade with everyone else.

by Steven Horwitz

As Black Friday has continued to expand in recent years, one response to its orgy of discounts and deals has been to promote the following day as “Small Business Saturday.” The idea is to encourage people to shop at their local stores rather than at national chains or big-box stores, or perhaps on the Internet. Doing so, argue its proponents, is both moral and good for the local economy, as it keeps jobs and money in “our communities” rather than, presumably, in the hands of faceless and distant corporate masters.

Let’s ignore the irony that the sponsor of this movement is the international corporation known as American Express. Is there a moral or economic case for shopping local, whether on the Saturday after Thanksgiving or in general?

There is not. Many of the same arguments made by progressives in favor of shopping local are the same as those made by Trump and his supporters in favor of what they call “economic nationalism.” For the same reasons that shopping local isn’t morally or economically superior to buying from chains and big boxes, neither is buying “Made in the USA.” The most moral and economic choice is to buy from whomever you want based on your preferences about price, service, or any other number of factors.

Big Boxes Employ Locally
If we only shopped from locally-owned businesses, we would be paying higher prices and overall employment and incomes would be lower.  The moral and economic cases against buying local are intertwined. Consider the argument that buying local is better because buying from Walmart or Target doesn’t keep money and jobs in the local community. This argument ignores that the average Walmart Supercenter employs around 400 people and the numbers are similar for Target. Those jobs continue to exist because people shop at those stores. The hundreds employed at any given big box store are just as much members of the local community as are the owners of the small business that compete with the big boxes. 

To the extent that the prices at the big box stores are cheaper, they enable those who shop there to have income left over to spend on other goods and services, including things from locally-owned businesses, creating jobs that would not exist otherwise. If we only shopped from locally-owned businesses, we would be paying higher prices and overall employment and incomes would be lower. Plus, consumers would not have access to the variety of goods available at chain and big box stores, forcing them to not only spend more but get less value for it.

Buy National?
The same logic applies to international trade. Those imploring us to “buy local” are falling for the same sorts of fallacies that Trump, and many who voted for him, implicitly accept when they argue for raising barriers to international trade. “Economic localism” is nothing more than a smaller scale version of the “economic nationalism” of Steve Bannon and other Trump advisors.

Increasing duties on imports, thereby forcing more Americans to buy “local” in terms of the global economy, does nothing to create jobs or improve the economic standing of Americans. “Keeping the money in the USA,” like “keeping the money in the community,” harms those it is intended to help, and does so for the same reasons.

Forcing Americans to buy only, or predominantly, American-made products means we will spend more to get less, and the net effect on jobs will be zero at best. Globalized trade certainly shifts the mix of jobs in the US economy, as we have shifted in relative terms from manufacturing to hi-tech or services for example, but does not reduce the total number of jobs. One need only look at the data on overall job growth, and the increased variety of cheaper and better goods available to even the poorest Americans, over the last 30 years to see this.

The moral case for buying local is similarly weak. It’s best seen by making the moral case for buying globally.

The promoters of buying local often argue that buying from international corporations is problematic because so many of their products are bought from China or other parts of the world where wages are low and working conditions are bad. The belief is that by buying from those firms, consumers are supporting the exploitation of workers in those countries, making such purchases morally questionable.

Here is where the economics entangles with the morality: large firms are morally suspect because of the supposed negative economic effects they create. But are those negative economic effects real? Without an extended discussion of so-called “sweatshops” (but do see Ben Powell’s excellent book), two quick points are in order.

How Wages Rise
That Chinese workers have factory jobs that pay as well as they do, compared to the other options available to them, is a result of firms like Walmart buying the products those factories create. Wages depend on the productivity of workers (and the capital they use) along with the value of what they create. When the demand for those Chinese products goes up, thanks to us buying at Walmart, wages for the workers in those factories rise. And the evidence is clear that rising wages and the pressure of large Western firms are key drivers of improved working conditions.

Buying Chinese made products at Walmart not only doesn’t further exploit Chinese workers; it is of positive help to them.

Geography and Morality

It is not clear why people more near to us geographically should have moral weight than those further away. Given the choice between helping a middle-class small businesswoman in our neighborhood or increasing the chances of better employment at a higher wage for much poorer men and women in China, why should we believe that the former is necessarily morally superior? 

If human beings deserve our moral consideration by virtue of their humanity, and if those who are worse off economically are deserving of more such consideration, then it would seem that if there is a moral case for anything, it’s for buying in ways that help the least well-off, regardless of their nationality or ethnicity.

Certainly most of the progressive proponents of shopping local do not imagine themselves to be guilty of the same prejudices as Steve Bannon and other partisans of Trump’s economic nationalism, but the underlying logic is the same. The best path toward enriching everyone is allowing everyone to trade with everyone else.

Buy Wherever
To be clear, my argument is not that buying local is somehow wrong. It’s not. But it’s also not morally or economically superior to buying from Walmart or Target or even Amazon. Many local businesses offer better products or superior service, or perhaps fill a unique niche that large stores cannot. They also provide better opportunities to socialize with friends and neighbors. Those are all good reasons to buy from local businesses.

But don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are somehow benefiting your local economy or doing something that’s morally superior. You’re just doing what globalized markets with a range of alternatives allow you to do: deciding what elements of your economic activity matter to you and choosing accordingly. Restricting those alternatives, whether through well-intentioned progressive “economic localism” or the darker, reactionary forces of “economic nationalism,” harms people, and often those who can ill-afford worsening poverty.

Steven Horwitz

Steven Horwitz is the Schnatter Distinguished Professor of Free Enterprise in the Department of Economics at Ball State University, where he also is a Fellow at the John H. Schnatter Institute for Entrepreneurship and Free Enterprise. He is the author of Hayek’s Modern Family: Classical Liberalism and the Evolution of Social Institutions. and is a Distinguished Fellow at FEE and a member of the FEE Faculty Network.

This article was originally published on Read the original article.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Guest Post: Why Black Friday leads shoppers to behave badly

Jaeha Lee, North Dakota State University

The manic nature of Black Friday has at times led shoppers to engage in fistfights and other misbehavior in their desperation to snatch up the last ultra-discounted television, computer or pair of pants.

What is it about the day after Thanksgiving – a day meant to celebrate togetherness and shared feasting – that inspires consumers to misbehave?

Fellow researchers Sharron Lennon, Minjeong Kim, Kim Johnson and I have in recent years been exploring the causes of consumer misbehavior on Black Friday, historically one of the busiest shopping days of the year. Our latest research shows how our emotions affect our likelihood to misbehave, as well as a significant difference between men and women.

A fight breaks out in a Walmart in 2016.

Black Friday mayhem

The term “Black Friday” first appeared in the journal Factory Management and Maintenance in 1951. It signals the beginning of the Christmas shopping season, when many retailers finally go “in the black” – that is, they become profitable for the year.

More recently, Black Friday has become a setting for consumer misbehavior as shoppers compete for deeply discounted products. Fighting, pepper-spraying, dumping merchandise, ransacking stores, robberies and shootings have all been reported on Black Friday. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has even issued guidelines to retailers about how to avoid injuries and deaths.

In the U.S., the most shocking example of misbehavior occurred in 2008 when a Walmart worker was trampled and killed as shoppers rushed to enter the store.

So what causes some consumers to behave so badly?

It starts with the unique characteristics of Black Friday sales promotions and the frantic retail environment they create. Retailers heavily promote their most desirable items at deeply discounted prices in order to encourage more foot traffic. Demand for those precious few items naturally exceeds supply. That imbalance can lead to aggressive consumer behavior.

But another key ingredient is sleep deprivation, which results from the very timing of the sales, which may begin at midnight or early in the morning and require eager customers to camp outside a store all night. That means many Black Friday shoppers aren’t functioning at their best, resulting in grumpy moods and bad decisions.

Impact of crowded stores

Research my colleagues and I conducted in 2014 examined how two situational variables – large crowds and the rude, argumentative behavior of fellow shopper – affected the likelihood that otherwise jovial consumers would become Black Friday miscreants.

We created a questionnaire based on past research of the topic and asked several hundred students at four universities located in different regions of the country to fill them out. We analyzed only results from the 260 participants who reported to have shopped on Black Friday in the past and completed the survey.

On the whole, we found the large crowds that congregate on Black Friday actually had positive effects on consumer behavior, reducing dissatisfaction and aggression and thus errant activity as well. That is, as long as the shoppers were expecting to have to navigate very crowded stores.

All it takes is one bad seed, however, to ruin the experience for others. Being unable to purchase the advertised product seems unfair, leading to misbehavior and in turn making others more likely to follow suit.

Since an expectation of crowds seemed to make it less likely that shoppers would perceive inequities, posting signs at entrances or in advertisements reminding shoppers to bear with Black Friday’s crowded conditions may help keep customers civil.

Emotional shoppers

In our latest study, published in June, we examined how our emotions and personality traits influence consumers and whether there are differences between women and men.

Black Friday, Northern Virginia, 2013 (c) Rick Sincere
Black Friday, Northern Virginia, 2013 (c) Rick Sincere
We designed an online survey in which participants – 411 students who indicated they had previously shopped on Black Friday – were randomly assigned to read one of three scenarios involving a customer trying to buy a discounted item the day after Thanksgiving.

In two of the scenarios, the customer went home empty-handed after not being able to make a desired purchase, either because the retailer ran out of the product or because the promotion had ended. In the third one, the participant read about a customer who managed to successfully snare the desired product – either a smartphone or clothing – at the greatly reduced price.

After reading the assigned scenario, participants completed a series of scales that assessed their emotions such as anger and thrill, their personality traits and their likelihood to misbehave on Black Friday.

Our findings showed that participants – both men and women – who had an emotional response to the scenarios, whether negative or positive, were more likely to be willing to engage in consumer misbehavior.

As for differences between the sexes, we found that men’s capacity for self-control was the primary trait that determined whether they were likely to behave badly on Black Friday.

In other words, possessing more self-control mitigated any anger that might lead to misbehavior. For women, self-control was irrelevant. What mattered for them was public self-consciousness – that is, how others viewed them. And surprisingly, women deemed to have a high degree of public self-consciousness were more likely to misbehave if they got angry.

Battle of the fittest

Black Friday creates a competitive environment since not all shoppers can get what they want. Thus, this competitive environment causes both positive and negative emotions. Consumers are thrilled when they get what they want and frustrated when they do not.

For retailers, Black Friday is meant explicitly to attract these large crowds in hopes of ringing in more sales. But besides leading to minor misbehavior, more people jostling over a small number of deeply discounted items can also lead to injuries or even wrongful death lawsuits. Retailers need to balance making more money and the safety of their customers and workers.

In general, reducing the number of unpleasant customers would improve the shopping experience for other shoppers as well as for store employees. Rather than ignoring or accommodating such shoppers, retailers should be proactive by clearly communicating store policies and quickly reacting to signs of aggression by removing the bad actors. Other steps retailers could take include adding checkout lanes to speed up traffic and putting more employees on the sales floor to improve responsiveness to shopper concerns.

Ultimately, customers are responsible for their own behavior. When shoppers behave responsibly, the Black Friday experience isn’t spoiled for their fellow customers and everyone is able to buy their digital goods and clothes in a safe and relatively stress-free environment.

The ConversationThis article incorporates elements of a piece written by the same author and published on Nov. 28, 2014.

Jaeha Lee, Associate Professor of Apparel, Design and Hospitality Management, North Dakota State University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Guest Post: Turkey doesn't make you sleepy – but it may incite more trust

Kevin Bennett, Pennsylvania State University

‘Tis the season for giblets, wattles and snoods – oh my. On Thanksgiving and Christmas, Americans consume about 68 million turkeys – one for about every five of us. In fact, 29 percent of all turkeys gobbled down in the U.S. are consumed during the holidays.

And where turkey is being eaten, there is inevitably talk of tryptophan – a naturally occurring chemical found in turkey and other foods. This building block of protein often takes the blame for eaters feeling sleepy soon after the Thanksgiving meal.

Science has cleared tryptophan, though – it’s not the culprit when it comes to drowsiness after the feast. There are far more important factors leading to those post-turkey comas, not least of which is my Uncle Clarence’s story about parking at the airport. Add that to free-flowing booze combined with a load of carbohydrates followed by plenty more booze and you have a foolproof recipe for dozing off on the couch. Turkey, chicken, lamb and beef all contain roughly the same amount of tryptophan – ranging from 0.13-0.39 grams per 100 grams of food – yet the sleepiness myth has never surrounded those other foods.

turkey dinner Thanksgiving tryptophan

Overeating and drinking are more likely at the root of your post-feast nap.
Brent Hofacker/

So tryptophan is off the snooze-inducing hook. But researchers in the Netherlands suggest it does have a different psychological effect: They’ve discovered that doses of tryptophan (chemically known as L-tryptophan and abbreviated TRP) can promote interpersonal trust – that feeling you get when you look somebody in the eye, shake her hand and think, “I can cooperate with this person and she would reciprocate.”

In a study published in the journal Psychological Science, pairs of volunteers were each given an oral dose of 0.8g of TRP or a placebo. For comparison, a 100g standard serving of turkey about the thickness of a deck of playing cards contains about 0.31g of tryptophan.

Each duo then sat in separate cubicles and played a game where one person (the truster) was given US$7 and had to decide how much to transfer to the other person. The transferred money was then multiplied by three and the trustee could give back part of the tripled money.

The more money you’re willing to give away in the first place, the greater your return in the end – but you have to trust the other person to cooperate. A very simple and profitable game if played right.

The researchers found that the TRP group gave $4.81 on average and the placebo group offered only $3.38. This is a sizable 42 percent increase in transferred money between the two groups.

So what’s going on? Here’s the brain science behind how the tryptophan-trust connection works.

TRP is an essential amino acid found in many foods including eggs, soybeans, chocolate, cheeses, fish, nuts and, of course, turkey. The brain region associated with interpersonal trust – known as the medial prefrontal cortex – is powered by the neurotransmitter serotonin. Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers found throughout the body that transmit signals from one nerve cell to another.

Our bodies synthesize many neurotransmitters from simple amino acids which are readily available in our food and can be quickly converted in a small number of biosynthetic steps. The neurotransmitter serotonin is controlled in part by the release of TRP. This means that as you increase levels of TRP you’re able to release serotonin in the brain region specially designed to process trust. Think of a flashing neon sign that reads “trust this person, trust this person.”

turkey dinner Thanksgiving tryptophan

A plate of turkey won’t convince you to buy into Cousin Gerald’s pyramid scheme.

Keep in mind, however, that our decisions to trust or not to trust do not rely solely on ingesting TRP. In the real world we take into account personality factors, how well we know someone, previous cooperation with that person, tone of voice, eye contact, body language and so on. These all have a hand in shaping the conscious and unconscious rules that govern our pro-social behavior and trust preferences.

The ConversationSo this holiday season, eat your turkey (or salmon or cashews or cottage cheese or chocolate) and remember that few things are more pleasurable than the joy that comes from sharing a holiday meal with loved ones. Science shows us that tryptophan can promote social bonding, but there still is no substitute for giving thanks. Trust me.

Kevin Bennett, Assistant Teaching Professor of Psychology, Pennsylvania State University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Guest Post: 5 Ways To Avoid Thanksgiving Dinner Fights

As we take our attention off disagreements with others, we can watch the quality of conversation change.

by Barry Brownstein

Political divisions are ugly, and those divisions have spilled over onto the Thanksgiving table. One study found that “partisan differences cost American families 62 million person-hours of Thanksgiving time.” Presumably, those same differences are impacting the quality of family time throughout the year.

Time to count our blessings has become another opportunity to count our grievances.

Here are five suggestions to help bring harmony to your Thanksgiving table.

Thankgiving conversation games Mad-Libs1. Begin with Your Purpose in Mind
Our mind selectively interprets our experience, in part, based upon where our attention is focused.

When our purpose at the dinner table is clouded by wishes to feel superior to a relative who “just doesn’t get it” we are setting ourselves up for an unhappy Thanksgiving. Since our attention is directed by our purpose, our mind will jump on every shred of evidence to confirm that our relative is a “problem.”

By allowing our mind to gnaw on irritations and grievances, we have made harmony dependent upon others behaving as we think they should. Notice, as details of our complaints fill our mind, we suffer more.

We can lead by going first; we can find our higher purpose for this year’s Thanksgiving gathering. As we take our attention off disagreements with others, we can watch the quality of conversation change.

2. Ask Yourself: Would I Rather Be Right or Happy?
Is it important to have an opinion about everything?  How often do we look for a pause in the conversation so we can tell others why they are wrong?

When we express an opinion that doesn’t need to be expressed, we are saying to the other person: My function is to correct you, and your function is to accept my correction. Should we be surprised if others resist us?

Ryan Holiday, author of several books on Stoicism, writes of the price we pay for our opinions:

“If you were to think of the worst punishment you could inflict on a person it would be to cast a spell on them that says, ‘You will now have a strong opinion on everything you see and hear.’ Why? Because inevitably they find that much of what happens to them is disagreeable to that opinion, and worse, they will find themselves in many pointless disagreements with other people about those opinions.”
Here is the good news. We can be grateful for our opinionated relatives; they provide us an opportunity to practice not having to always be right. We can choose, instead, to be curious about the opinions of others.

3. Practice Ben Franklin’s Humility Rule
In his autobiography, Ben Franklin writes of learning of a flaw in his own character revealed to him by a friend: “I was generally thought proud, that my pride showed itself frequently in conversation, that I was not content with being in the right when discussing any point, but was overbearing and rather insolent.”

Franklin realized he was lacking in humility and, despite practice, he could not “boast of much success in acquiring the reality of this virtue.” So, Franklin added a rule to his life:
“I made it a rule to forbear all direct contradiction to the sentiments of others, and all positive assertion of my own. I even forbid myself, the use of every word or expression in the language that imported a fixed opinion, such as certainly, undoubtedly, etc., and I adopted, instead of them, I conceive, I apprehend, or I imagine a thing to be so or so, or it so appears to me at present.”
Franklin noticed how contradicting others gave him pleasure: “When another asserted something that I thought an error, I denied myself the pleasure of contradicting him abruptly, and of showing immediately some absurdity in his proposition.”

This Thanksgiving, we can practice denying ourselves the “pleasure” of contradicting others.

4. Understand the Nature of Feelings
We believe that the intensity of our feelings is a signal that we are right and others are wrong. Upset feelings are a guide to the quality of our thinking and not the correctness of our position. When we experience intense emotions, we commonly attribute our emotions to what is external. We are certain that “obnoxious” Uncle Joe has caused our discomfort by expressing his flawed opinions.

Full stop! Being irritated, being annoyed, being angry are pre-existing qualities in us and are not caused by Uncle Joe. Our reaction to Uncle Joe reveals to us a flaw in our own character.

Instead of irritation, we can cultivate gratitude by remembering how the sacrifices of the family members sitting at our table have improved our lives.

5. Reflect on Our Shared Human Experience
Politics is divisive, but all human experiences have common elements.

Viktor Frankl, the famed psychiatrist and author of Man’s Search for Meaning also wrote The Will to Meaning. In it, he describes a “tragic triad” of human experiences. He observed, “There is no human being who may say that he has not failed, that he does not suffer, and that he will not die.”

Before a cosmic moment has gone by, everyone at our Thanksgiving tables will experience Frankl’s “tragic triad.”

We can look at the faces around the table and let our hearts melt with the truth of our common journey.

When we focus on what we share, and not what divides us, Love comes to the forefront of our experience.

Reprinted from Intellectual Takeout.

Barry Brownstein Thanksgiving conversation

Barry Brownstein is professor emeritus of economics and leadership at the University of Baltimore. He is the author of The Inner-Work of Leadership. He delivers leadership workshops to organizations and blogs at, and Giving up Control.

This article was originally published on Read the original article.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

From the Archives: Witness to 1963 Kennedy assassination speaks at Virginia Film Festival

Witness to 1963 Kennedy assassination speaks at Virginia Film Festival
November 10, 2013 12:19 PM MST

Tina Towner Pender JFK assassination Virginia Film Festival
Tina Towner was the youngest person who photographed events at Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963, as President John F. Kennedy's motorcade drove by. Seconds before the assassin's shots rang out, the 13-year-old's home movie camera ran out of film, but she captured the President and First Lady's car just as it turned the corner from Houston Street to Elm Street.

Now Tina Towner Pender, she spoke to the Charlottesville Libertarian Examiner at the Virginia Film Festival after a November 9 screening of a new documentary, The Kennedy Half-Century, co-produced by the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia. She had participated in a panel discussion along with UVA political scientist Larry Sabato and another witness to the Kennedy assassination, Wesley Buell Frazier, a co-worker of Lee Harvey Oswald at the Texas Book Depository.

The author of a 2012 book called Tina Towner: My Story as the Youngest Photographer at the Kennedy Assassination, Pender described what happened to the short piece of film she took that day in Dallas.

Was the film altered?

The raw footage, she explained during the panel discussion, was processed by local law enforcement authorities, who had put out a call for any movies or still photographs that may have been taken by onlookers but had not been developed yet. Her family did not receive the reel back for several weeks.

Asked whether they thought it might have been tampered with, Pender said, “Not at the time.”

They did notice something anomalous right away, however.

The assassination footage “was on the end of a reel of home movies so we knew we were going to have to watch the whole reel,” which included, she said, her “sister going off to college,” before they got to the newsworthy section.

“When we got there, it ran out and there was no assassination film,” she explained, “and for a few seconds we thought we didn't have it, that they didn't send it back to us.” It turned out that “it had been cut from the rest of the film and it was there” on the reel but “it was just not spliced on to the end.”

Mysterious splice

About a decade later, Pender and her father took the film to a lab to be examined at the request of some investigators.

“My dad didn't let it out of our hands, so I went with him” to Jack White's lab in Fort Worth, Texas, she said.

“There were about three or four people there looking at it while I was there and they turned to me and they said, 'Did you know that there's a splice in your film?'”

Startled by the question, Pender asked them what they meant.

A technician replied that “'there's a jump in the film and there's a splice,'” and showed it to her. Just at the point where the limousine is turning the corner, “you see a jump in the film.”

That was not a surprise to her in itself, because “we knew that was there but we just figured it was some sort of a blip in the processing” but it was actually “spliced together. You could see where it was spliced and it was not using materials my dad would have [used]. It was more professionally done and it was hard to see this splice when you looked at it.”

Pender conceded that she did not know “who did that and I don't know when it was done, either,” because the film had been in the possession of law enforcement in 1963, and Life magazine had borrowed it, along with 35mm slides her father had shot, for a feature in 1967.

Congressional inquiry

Later in the 1970s, Pender was questioned by investigators for the U.S. House Select Committee on Assassinations, which concluded that Kennedy's assassination was the result of a conspiracy and not the sole responsibility of Lee Harvey Oswald. She said her encounter with them seemed peremptory.

The meeting was “brief,” she explained.

“They called and said they wanted me to bring them the original film and the slides that my dad took,” but in the event the investigators came to her office, where she was working.

They questioned her “for about 15 or 20 minutes – maybe 30 -- but it didn't seem like that long. The questions were not very deep or probing. It almost was like they just wanted to get it done with and take the film and leave.”

Neither Pender nor any member of her family who witnessed the assassination was called to testify before the Warren Commission, which was established by President Lyndon B. Johnson to investigate the killing of John F. Kennedy.

Publisher's note: This article was originally published on on November 10, 2013. The publishing platform was discontinued July 1, 2016, and its web site went dark on or about July 10, 2016.  I am republishing this piece in an effort to preserve it and all my other contributions to since April 6, 2010. It is reposted here without most of the internal links that were in the original.

From the Archives: Lee Harvey Oswald colleague recalls aftermath of Kennedy assassination

Lee Harvey Oswald colleague recalls aftermath of Kennedy assassination
November 9, 2013 9:34 PM MST

Wesley Buell Frazier drove Lee Harvey Oswald to work at the Texas Book Depository on the morning of November 22, 1963. That was a day that changed his life, he said in an interview at the 2013 Virginia Film Festival on November 9. “That young boy who went to work that day, he has never come home.”

Frazier spoke to the Charlottesville Libertarian Examiner after a screening of a new documentary, The Kennedy Half-Century, co-produced by the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia. He had participated in a panel discussion along with UVA political scientist Larry Sabato and another witness to the Kennedy assassination, Tina Towner Pender.

Just 19 years old in November 1963, Frazier had to endure a brutal interrogation by the Dallas police, who accused him of being part of the assassination plot.

'Innocent until proven guilty'

The police interrogator, he said, “wanted me to admit to being part of the assassination and I told the guy, 'I'm not doing that.' I said, 'That's ridiculous.'”

JFK assassination Wesley Buell Frazier Lee Harvey Oswald
He added: “In this country, you're supposed to be innocent until proven guilty but a lot of times you're guilty until proven innocent and our forefathers didn't intend for our country to be like that.”

During the panel discussion, Frazier explained that he had often driven Oswald from suburban Dallas to the book depository. Oswald's Russian-born wife, Marina, lived near Frazier's sister, while Oswald rented a room in the city. Normally, they carpooled only on Friday evenings and Monday mornings, and Frazier had pointed out to Oswald how it was odd he would need a ride on Friday morning.

That Friday turned out to be “a day like I've never seen before. I hope I never see one [like it] again,” Frazier said.

“It's a day that changed my life. I've never been the same. That young boy who went to work that day, he has never come home. For many years I wouldn't talk to anybody about any of it because I was so scared about what they might do to my family. There's some evil people in this country and when it comes to power and money they will do anything.”

The police interrogator handed Frazier a pre-typed confession and told him to sign it.

“I started reading it,” he explained. “It said I knew about and was part of the assassination, and I said, 'That's totally false. I'm not going to sign that.'”

Police brutality

That response made the police officer angry, Frazier recalled.

“When I wouldn't sign he drew back his hand to hit me. Matter of fact, he was standing just like you're standing there, and I put my arm up like this” – he raised his hand above his head – “to block, to keep him from striking me.”

The officer “got so mad when I told him, 'I'm not signing that,' and I told him, 'There's [another] policeman outside this door but before they get in here, you and I are going to have a hell of a fight. I'm going to get some good licks on you.'”

Reflecting on that moment, Frazier said, “For one time in my life, I think I scared the hell out of a man because I turned the tables on him – because that's what he did” as a matter of routine.

That policeman, he said, “badgered and beat on people to make them sign confessions and he found a kid who wasn't scared of him. I think it scared the hell out of him.”

Even though Frazier was “a young 19” at the time, that interrogating officer “didn't know what I had been through before I got there,” which heightened the tension in the room.

Publisher's note: This article was originally published on on November 9, 2013. The publishing platform was discontinued July 1, 2016, and its web site went dark on or about July 10, 2016.  I am republishing this piece in an effort to preserve it and all my other contributions to since April 6, 2010. It is reposted here without most of the internal links that were in the original.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

From the Archives: Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell issues annual Thanksgiving proclamation

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell issues annual Thanksgiving proclamation
November 21, 2011 11:41 PM MST

On Wednesday morning in Richmond, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell will preside over the annual ceremony at which the Commonwealth’s Indian tribes pay tribute to the colonial overlords who arrived beginning in 1607. In return for the taking of their land by the English settlers, the Native Americans pay the Virginia governor duty in the form of wild game, animal skins, and weapons. Bob McDonnell Powhatan Indians Thanksgiving 2011
Richmond History Examiner Karen Graham writes that the “tribes are paying their yearly tribute to the government of the Commonwealth” in a ceremony that goes back nearly 400 years.

Graham explains that the “first time a tribute was paid was due to a treaty signed in 1646. This treaty ended the Anglo-Indian War.The words of the treaty required the Powhatan Indians to pay a tribute of 20 beaver pelts to the colonial government yearly. In return, they would be protected from their enemies.”

In advance of the ceremony and the nation’s annual celebration of Thanksgiving Day, Governor McDonnell on Monday issued his official Thanksgiving proclamation, which says in part:

“… to show their appreciation for the colony’s success and to take stock and give thanks for their own gifts and blessings, and in spite of tremendous adversity, the settlers in Virginia found time to celebrate the first Thanksgiving in America at Berkeley Plantation on December 4, 1619…

“… while reflecting upon the actions taken by the colonists at the first Thanksgiving, we also honor the Indian peoples, for without their presence, the survival of the colonists would have been ever more difficult; and…

“… it is a Virginia tradition for our citizens to come together in unity on Thanksgiving Day and give thanks for the great level of serenity, harmony and abundance with which we, as citizens of a free nation, have been blessed; the rule of law by which we peaceably govern ourselves and by which our civil and religious liberties are guaranteed; and the brave servicemen and women of our armed forces who risk their lives to defend the freedoms and blessings we cherish; …

“… I encourage all Virginians to give thanks to our Creator for our plentiful blessings, including the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as well as the unwavering strength of our families and communities.”

According to Governor McDonnell’s official schedule, he and First Lady Maureen McDonnell will participate in the annual tax tribute ceremony on the grounds of the State Capitol and the Executive Mansion at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, November 23.

Publisher's note: This article was originally published on on November 21, 2011. The publishing platform was discontinued July 1, 2016, and its web site went dark on or about July 10, 2016.  I am republishing this piece in an effort to preserve it and all my other contributions to since April 6, 2010. It is reposted here without most of the internal links that were in the original.

From the Archives - Author Earl Dudley: from child prisoner of the Japanese to UVA law professor

Author Earl Dudley: from child prisoner of the Japanese to UVA law professor
November 21, 2010 3:51 PM MST

Earl Dudley memoir law professor World War II UVA
Having had a childhood that virtually parallels the story of Steven Spielberg’s 1987 movie, Empire of the Sun, retired UVA law professor Earl C. Dudley, Jr., begins his memoir, An Interested Life, with the Japanese bombing of the Philippines that followed the attack on Pearl Harbor.

“My mother and I were injured in the first Japanese bombing of the Philippine Islands on December 8, 1941,” he told the Charlottesville Libertarian Examiner in an interview. “With my parents, I was interned in the Japanese internment camps for a little over three years in the Philippines, and we were rescued by a very dramatic operation of the 11th Airborne Division on February 23, 1945.”

Dudley was one of more than 30 local and regional writers at a “Meet the Author” book signing at the Holiday Inn in Charlottesville on November 19.

‘My parents were starving themselves’

“I was only 4 when the war was over,” Dudley explained, “so I have little independent memory of my own, but I have no memory of having had an unhappy childhood. My life was sheltered. My parents were starving themselves to feed me.”

He recalled that his father, “who was about 6 feet tall and normally weighed about 175 or 180 pounds, weighed about 120 pounds when the war was over. It was an experience for the adults that involved a tremendous amount of deprivation and unpleasantness.”

Yet, he remembers that, “as a child, I had the full attention of my parents. They were prisoners and so they focused their attention on me and they starved themselves to feed me. So I don’t think I had an unhappy childhood.”

After spending one’s earliest years in a prisoner of war camp, anything after that must pale in comparison. Yet Dudley’s life was peppered with poignant moments.

John F. Kennedy Assassination

In the early 1960s, he was working as a journalist for UPI in New York. As it happens, he was on the editor's desk when President Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963.

He writes in his memoir about that day:

“The news of the assassination hit me, as it did almost everyone, like a punch to the solar plexus. But I had no time to grieve. I was running an international news wire with the biggest story in many years. Given the magnitude and pace of events, there was no time for a transition to a new editor, so I remained in the [editor’s] slot for most of the next shift as well…. I simply operated on instinct and somehow made it through the crisis without panicking.”

End of segregation

Earl Dudley An Interested Life
Earl Dudley
Dudley grew up in the South during the last years of enforced segregation. He was in the ninth grade in Northern Virginia, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that “separate but equal” schools were inherently unequal and, consequently, unconstitutional in the case of Brown v. Board of Education.

“I was the only kid that I ever found at my Herndon High School in 1954 whose parents told him the Supreme Court got it right,” he said.

Working for civil rights, he continued, “was always a priority of mine. I organized a demonstration at the White House in the spring of 1960 in support of the sit-ins in Greensboro, North Carolina, and then in later years, I did a fair amount of pro bono work for the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights in Washington.”

Studying at the University of Virginia Law School drew Dudley to Charlottesville and, after graduating, he clerked for Chief Justice Earl Warren during the Supreme Court’s 1967-68 term.

Police pat-downs

Dudley clerked during the year the Court decided Terry v. Ohio, a case that may have relevance in the current controversy about Transportation Security Administration searches at U.S. airports.

Dudley said that case was probably the best-known of that Supreme Court term, adding that he worked on it, explaining that it “dealt with the question of police pat-downs on the street, with less than probable cause to arrest. It was very controversial case at the time and has spawned a huge, whole jurisprudence of its own.”

After two decades working for various Washington law firms, Dudley returned to Charlottesville to teach.

His classes included “mostly litigation-related courses, because that’s what I had done in practice. I taught evidence, civil procedure, criminal procedure, criminal law, constitutional law, and trial advocacy.”

Dudley retired from teaching in 2008, and now enjoys quietude and travel with his wife of more than 50 years, Louise, and his family, seven decades after a tumultuous beginning to what he calls “an interested life.”

Monday, November 20, 2017

Guest Post: What the first Thanksgiving dinner actually looked like

Julie Lesnik, Wayne State University

Most Americans probably don’t realize that we have a very limited understanding of the first Thanksgiving, which took place in 1621 in Massachusetts.

Indeed, few of our present-day traditions resemble what happened almost 400 years ago, and there’s only one original account of the feast.

As an anthropologist who specializes in reconstructing past diets, I can say that even though we don’t have a definitive account of the menu at the first Thanksgiving, letters and recorded oral histories give us a pretty good idea of what they probably ate. And we know for a fact that it didn’t include mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie.

waterfowl Winslow Homer Thanksgiving

Waterfowl – not turkey – would have been the main course.
Winslow Homer, 'Right and Left' (1909), National Gallery of Art

A main course of waterfowl and venison

The main course is the one scholars can speak about with certainty.

The only eyewitness account of the first Thanksgiving comes from a letter written by Edward Winslow on Dec. 11, 1621. In it, he describes how the Puritans, after utilizing fertilization methods imparted by Tisquantum (also known as “Squanto”), had their first successful harvest. To celebrate, Governor William Bradford “sent four men on fowling” and they returned later that day with enough food to feed the colony for almost a week. Since waterfowl was plentiful in the Massachusetts Bay area, it’s widely accepted that they were eating goose and duck rather than turkey.

The letter also recounts that the Wampanoag leader Massasoit Ousamequin was present, along with “some ninety men,” and that they gifted five deer to the governor. Therefore, venison likely had a prominent place alongside waterfowl on the first Thanksgiving table.

Not cranberry sauce, but sobaheg stew

The natural bogs of the the region contained wild cranberries that could be dried and used all winter to bring variety and vitamin C into the diets of the Wampanoags. They even have their own holiday, Cranberry Day, that resembles our Thanksgiving.

However, there’s no account of cranberries at the first Thanksgiving, nor is there any mention of cranberries in other records of foods introduced to people who arrived on the Mayflower.

This may be due, in part, to the location of Plymouth Plantation relative to the boggy regions of Massachusetts, which are several miles away.

If bogs were not in the immediate area, then the fruit may not have been as readily used by the Wampanoags of this region as they were in other places with Wampanoag settlements, like Martha’s Vineyard.

Instead, for a side dish to the main course, a stew called sobaheg was most likely served. An easy way to make use of seasonal ingredients, the stew often included a mixture of beans, corn, poultry, squash, nuts and clam juice. All are used in the traditional dish today, and all would have been available in 1621. In fact, clams, fish and other seafood were abundant in the area, so they were probably present in some form, whether in sobaheg or another dish.

For carbs, look to cornbread, not potatoes

Historians attribute the first New England crop of potatoes to Derry, New Hampshire in 1722, so there’s no way mashed potatoes could have made an appearance during the first Thanksgiving.

Corn, on the other hand, was the staple starch of the time, and in the published notes of William J. Miller on the Wampanoag tribe, he indicates that among the foods introduced to them, the corn bread, called maizium, was “kind.” European settlers didn’t often speak favorably of indigenous food, so mazium stands out as a recipe that likely made it onto the table at this first feast.

Thanksgiving cornbread

Potatoes weren’t around in 17th-century New England, but corn was plentiful.
Natalija Sahraj

A ‘green sauce’ gravy

Although the settlers may have made a gravy out of the drippings from the meats procured for the feast, a common staple for these early colonizers was a dish known simply as “green sauce.”

Although the best accounts of this sauce come from later records when households had their own gardens of European crops, recipes also utilized crops introduced to them by the Wampanoag. In addition to the corn (and barley) mentioned in Winslow’s letter, the harvest of 1621 likely included beans, squash, onions, turnips and greens such as spinach and chard. All could have been cooked at length to create a pulpy sauce that later became a staple in early New England homes.

What about dessert?

A regular supply of sugar or maple syrup wasn’t available in the area until much later. Sugar, which was the major export of Caribbean plantations, didn’t become popular in New England until the 18th century.

As for maple syrup, Native Americans of the Northeast are credited as the first to procure it; however, it’s believed that European settlers didn’t begin harvesting it until 1680.

The ConversationAlthough it is tough to think of Thanksgiving without decadent sweets, at least the first attendees were spared the awkwardness of having to refuse dessert after such a large feast.

Julie Lesnik, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Wayne State University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.