. . . how noble in reason, how infinite in faculties, in form and moving how express and admirable, in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the world, the paragon of animals—and yet,
to me, what is this quintessence of dust? (Hamlet)
And what a piece of work was William Shakespeare, born on this day, which is also St. George’s Feast Day in England, in 1564.
This was also the day, in 1772, that one Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle wrote one of the world’s most familiar, and stirring, national anthems, La Marseillaise. On this day in 1872, Charlotte Ray was sworn in as the first African-American woman attorney, in Washington, D.C.
Major day for the major leagues, this day. Hank Aaron hit his first home run in 1954. Pete Rose got his first hit in 1963. And in 1964, Ken Johnson, a pitcher for the Astros, got the majors’ first no-hit loss.
A momentous day in pop culture in 1985, the 23rd of April – Liberace guested as a veejay on MTV, and the Coca-Cola company made what turned out to be the most embarrassing announcement in corporate history, unveiling New Coke.
Along with Shakespeare, born this day were former President James Buchanan, Illinois politician Stephen Douglas, who famously debated Abraham Lincoln. Composer Sergei Prokofiev was born today, as were college football coach Bud Wilkinson, actress and UN Ambassador Shirley Temple (Black), the designer Halston, who gave us the pillbox hat, rock legend Roy Orbison, pop singer Sandra Dee, hockey Hall-of-Famer Tony Esposito, actress Valerie Bertinelli, and Irish civil rights leader Bernadette Devlin.
Torture still leads much of the national news, and, as with any big political story, we learn more about the quiet, nasty little intrigues that permeate The Nation’s Capitol with each new shovelful turned by a reporter. For example, CQ reports (thanks to Talking Points Memo for this) “that, after Alberto Gonzales quashed the FBI probe into Rep. Harman for political reasons, intelligence officials, angry about Gonzo’s move, told Nancy Pelosi about the wiretap that had picked up Harman talking to a suspected Israeli agent — defying the AG’s order that Pelosi not be informed.
That was how Pelosi learned about the wiretap — not through an official briefing, as she implied yesterday in comments to reporters.
`She knew. We made sure she knew,’ one of the former intel officials told Stein, chuckling.
It’s unclear how informing Pelosi — then the House minority leader — would have served the interests of the intel officials who wanted to investigate Harman. Perhaps they felt that, if they couldn’t continue the probe, they could at least make sure Harman paid a political price.”
She did; she did not get the Chair of the Intelligence Committee. CQ also reported that Speaker Pelosi “went ballistic” when presented with the threat by the California fundraiser (see Tuesday’s post) to cut her off.
Oh, and there’s an interesting oped in today’s NYT from Ali Soufan, an F.B.I. supervisory special agent from 1997 to 2005, on the supposed effectiveness of torture to extract information.
National Geographic News has a story – also making the wires – on a “giant space blob” astronomers have discovered about 12.9 billion light years away. It’s so far away, scientists are “seeing” it as it was hundreds of millions of years ago, since it takes awhile for light to travel that far. They’re not sure what it is – perhaps a baby galaxy – but there’s a cluster of stars surrounded by “a mysterious cloud of electrically charged hydrogen.” Reminds me of Fred Hoyle’s 1957 science fiction novel, “The Black Cloud.”
And as we “speak,” the Cardinals and Mets are knotted at 1-1 in the top of the third. Cardinals looking to sweep at home.