Fire Cloud...
An irregular marking on the exterior of Native American pottery: usually resulting from burning fuel coming in direct contact with the vessel during firing

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Claude Pepper

Tampa, Florida

As the race for president heats up, and I get more e-mails from Obama asking me to register my neighbors, I pause to remember and honor Claude Pepper as the essense of participatory democracy. He was born in 1900 and died in office in 1989. He served in the US Senate from 1936 to 1950 and was defeated by George Smathers who leveled the following charges against Pepper in his "redneck" campaign speech:

"Are you aware that Claude Pepper is known all over Washington as a shameless extrovert? Not only that, but this man is reliably reported to practice nepotism with his sister-in-law, and he has a sister who was once a thespian in wicked New York. Worst of all, it is an established fact that Mr. Pepper, before his marriage, habitually practiced celibacy."

Claude went on, after his Senate defeat in 1950, to become a Congressman from Miami, where he served until his death on May 30, 1989.

When I got back from Vietnam in 1968, my nerves were raw. I read in the Miami Herald that a woman from Thailand who had married a GI was being deported because her husband had been killed in Vietnam and she was not a citizen. I wrote a letter to Claude Pepper expressing my displeasure and a week or so later he passed a law in the House of Represenative and Senate making the spouses of GIs killed in combat automatic citizens. It was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson

Mrs Phred and I were very impressed with his prompt response to my request. We felt we owed him something so we both went to his campaign headquarters in Miami and made a lot of telephone calls working for his relection...

He was a new dealer and a big Stalin supporter in the 1940s. That cost him his Senate seat in 1950. He was a champion of liberal causes and of the elderly. He graduated from Harvard Law school...

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