June Cleaver died

I don’t know how I missed this until today, but Barbara Billingsley died a couple of weeks ago at the age of 94.

She was, of course, the epitome of the American mom, from her role as June Cleaver in “Leave It to Beaver,” which ran from 1957 to 1963 and made occasional reappearances in made-for-TV movies and reunion specials.

“Leave It to Beaver” was one of the shows I watched every day after school. Growing up poor in Brooklyn, it was fascinating to see how a “normal American family” was supposed to behave.

Episodes dealt with such weighty issues as Wally’s embarrassment over the size of his nose and the Beaver’s desire to raise pigeons. Ward could explain to his sons why a woman’s place was in the kitchen, and there would be no outcry. The biggest threat to family stability was a scheming suck-up named Eddie Haskell. Maybe there was an episode on civil rights once, but for all I know, that might have been “The Andy Griffith Show.” The times were so innocent, June could say, “Ward, I think you were pretty hard on the Beaver yesterday,” and no one would even think of that being risque.

But Billingsley will also be remembered for one of the best spoofs in movies, as the Jive Lady in “Airplane.”

She explained how she got the role and described the help of the two “black fellas” in coming up with the lines.

Her first credited acting role was in a 1948 murder mystery called “The Argyle Secrets” but her first screen appearance was in a film short as a blonde with hives in something called “So You Think You’re Allergic.” Those roles have faded in memory, but people who grew up in the 1950s and 1960s will always remember June Cleaver.

License to kill?

An 85-year-old woman was driving on Interstate 95 near Philadelphia and caused at least four accidents. But that’s what happens when you’re going northbound in the southbound lane.

The local CBS affiliate has video.

One witness said: “She just kept on staring straight and had her hands on the wheel staring straight. Just oblivious like she didn’t even know. It was just so surreal. Hundreds of people. they were extremely lucky they didn’t die.”

The debate on abilities of senior drivers is neverending. Having lived in Florida, I found the worst part of the year was spring break, a constant battle between drunk students and old drivers.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has a Powerpoint presentation on elderly crash victims and a study on the effects of aging on drivers. The underlying message, not surprisingly, is the older you get, the more impaired your driving skills are.

People get upset when you talk about taking away their driving privileges, but this situation is pretty clear. When someone drives the wrong way on an Interstate highway, it’s time to seize the driver’s license and the key to the car.

The joke that is ABC News

ABC News has decided that Andrew Breitbart will do live commentary on Election Night, this coming Tuesday.

Breitbart is the right winger who has been totally discredited for accusing Shirley Sherrod of racism and for promoting a dishonest video that led to the collapse of the ACORN community organization.

Teabaggers regularly throw out the “liberal media” accusation. ABC is just proving it’s an undercover version of Fox News.

UPDATE: ABC came to its senses and dumped Breitbart from its election coverage.

Since we need another reason to hate lawyers

This in the New York Times:

Citing cases dating back as far as 1928, a judge has ruled that a young girl accused of running down an elderly woman while racing a bicycle with training wheels on a Manhattan sidewalk two years ago can be sued for negligence.

New York law says children under the age of 4 can’t be sued for negligence, but this girl was three months short of 5. Maybe you sue the parents for improper supervision, but instead the Park Avenue lawyer handling the estate of the injured woman goes after a 6-year-old kid (the accident happened in April 2009). So if the kid loses do the plaintiffs immediately want her thrown in debtors prison? There’s no way the kid can sell enough lemonade to pay of a liability suit.

A friend of mine in New York constantly rants about the city’s legal system being run by greedy lawyers and their accomplice judges. Rulings like this only justify the rant.

Here’s the suit.

(The Times originally story said the 87-year-old woman died of the injuries. That has been corrected in this version.)