The Skirball Cultural Center here on the west side of Los Angeles is a museum and exhibition space whose stated mission is “to explore the connections between four thousand years of Jewish heritage and the vitality of American democratic ideals.” In Light & Noir: Exiles and Émigrés in Hollywood 1933-1950 it has amassed an impressive collection of photos, stock footage, archives, personal letters and original costumes that help to tell the uniquely American tale of the German immigrants—many of them Jewish—who made the Golden Age of American movie making possible.
Liberals enjoy pointing out that, unlike their mean-spirited and heartless conservative counterparts, they actually care about other people. The New York Times’ Paul Krugman, for one, writes that conservatives are “infected” with a “pathological mean-spiritedness” and want to “give you an extra kick” when you’re down on your luck. President Barack Obama, on the other hand, says that “kindness covers all of my political beliefs.”
On the face of it, Jefferson Davis had the ideal resume for service as the Confederacy’s first chief executive. In addition to serving as one of Mississippi’s Senators, he had served as a West Point trained officer in the U.S. regular army, had commanded a volunteer regiment during the Mexican War, and had served as one of the antebellum period’s most capable and reform-minded Secretaries of War. His prior experience certainly appeared superior to Lincoln, who could claim no noteworthy military or executive experience before his election to the presidency. Nevertheless, it was Lincoln who led the Union to victory and presided over Emancipation, while his Confederate adversary superintended a catastrophic defeat.