Day By Day

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Susan from Glendale Speaks Out

This afternoon I had to run an errand. I got in the car, turned on the radio, and listened to one of the most impassioned statements I have ever heard. The woman's name was Susan. She was calling from Glendale. And she was talking to Rush Limbaugh, who had the sense to just shut up and let her speak. It was a powerful statement.

Here's the transcript and a link to the audio. Listen to it -- it's very effective.

This is why Obama and the Democrats are having so much trouble. They scare the hell out of people.

Polanski Reviews Hanna Montana

Roman Polanski reviews Hannah Montana here.

This Day In History

Today is National Mud Pack Day, so get out there and start slinging and packing.

On this day sixty years ago [the formal date is October 1st, but because we are east of the international dateline we should note it today] the People's Republic of China was established. Under the leadership of Mao Zhedong the PRC became perhaps the most brutal regime in human history. It is estimated that policies instituted under Mao resulted in approximately 70 million excess peacetime deaths. Together with casualties inflicted during the Communist drive to power, Mao was probably responsible for more than 100 million deaths. He was easily the most lethal ruler ever [Stalin and Hitler don't even come close]. Supporters of Mao argue that such extreme measures were necessary to bring about Chinese independence, to restructure the nation's economy, and to establish a regime based on social justice. Others, myself included, would disagree. The reign of terror did not end until Mao's death in 1976.

Compared to that anything else I might note fades into insignificance, although, for the benefit of the movie buffs among you, I should note that today is James Dean's deathday.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

More Lies Of the Left -- The Hockey Stick

One after another the "scientific" pillars supporting global warming hysteria are falling. It now appears that Keith Briffa's famous study of tree rings, often cited in support of the "hockey stick" graphs embraced by the IPCC to support their claims of impending environmental doom, were based on a "cherry picked" set of data. Some found it suspicious that for many years Briffa refused to allow access to the original data sets on which his graphs were based, but they were ignored by the warming enthusiasts. Now we learn that Briffa massaged his data to get a desired result.

Read about this incredible fraud here.

The Sarah Palin 2010 Calendar

Check out Don Surber's Sarah Palin 2010 Calendar here.

Orwell on Polanski

In his essay on Salvador Dali [a monstrous and disgusting figure, so much so that he would have enjoyed being considered monstrous and disgusting] George Orwell makes the point that having artistic talent does not excuse a person from the standards of decent human conduct by writing:
If Shakespeare returned to the earth to-morrow, and if it were found that his favourite recreation was raping little girls in railway carriages, we should not tell him to go ahead with it on the ground that he might write another KING LEAR.
Read it here.

Obviously he wasn't French or Polish or a denizen of Hollywood.

Polanski did not just rape a thirteen year old girl, he drugged her, sodomized her, and kept her against her will [which I believe is called "kidnapping"]. He admitted as much, pleading "guilty" in court, then skipped the country thus becoming a fugitive from justice. Yet powerful figures in the United States and Europe are protecting him and denouncing those who would make him pay for his crimes.


Dave Gibson asks whether Polanski would receive the same treatment if he were a Catholic priest [here].


Ann Althouse demolishes Polanski defender, Bernard Henri-Levy here.

This Day In History

There's not much of historical interest to write about today -- Jamestown was resupplied, Leo I became Pope, Saladin entered Jerusalem..., that sort of thing. I suppose I could do a short essay on any of them, especially Leo ["the Great"] who was the pope who negotiated with Attila the Hun and supposedly convinced him to spare Rome [there's some debate on that] and was the first Pope to claim universal jurisdiction within the Church, but that would take too much time and I have other things I need to do today. So, I will have to content myself with a few markers in the history of American popular culture.

On this day in 1915 the Phillies clinched their first pennant; it would not be their last.

On this day in 1957 the New York Giants played their last game in the Polo Grounds losing to the Pittsburgh Pirates, 9-1.

And on this day in 1961 Bobby Zimmerman [aka Bob Dylan] took part in his first recording session, playing backup harmonica for Caroline Hester.

And on this day in 1963 the pride of Donora, PA -- Stan "the Man" Musial -- played his last game. That evening the Rolling Stones embarked on their first tour, opening for Bo Diddley and the Everly Brothers [talk about a mash of styles]. Coincidence? I think not!

And on this day in 1995 the defense rested in the O. J. Simpson murder trial.

In Germany -- Another Win for the Good Guys

Even as Obama and his minions try ever more desperately to drag America leftward, Europe has begun to move decisively to the right.

From the NYT [you know it had to kill them to write this]:

PARIS — A specter is haunting Europe — the specter of Socialism’s slow collapse.

Even in the midst of one of the greatest challenges to capitalism in 75 years, involving a breakdown of the financial system due to “irrational exuberance,” greed and the weakness of regulatory systems, European Socialist parties and their left-wing cousins have not found a compelling response, let alone taken advantage of the right’s failures.

German voters clobbered the Social Democratic Party on Sunday, giving it only 23 percent of the vote, its worst performance since World War II.

Voters also punished left-leaning candidates in the summer’s European Parliament elections and trounced French Socialists in 2007. Where the left holds power, as in Spain and Britain, it is under attack. Where it is out, as in France, Italy and now Germany, it is divided and listless.
Read it here.

This is a wonderful development, but I can't get too excited about Europe's repudiation of the Left's brand of government. In the European context, moving right means embracing socialism lite.

Europe’s center-right parties have embraced many ideas of the left: generous welfare benefits, nationalized health care, sharp restrictions on carbon emissions, the ceding of some sovereignty to the European Union. But they have won votes by promising to deliver more efficiently than the left, while working to lower taxes, improve financial regulation, and grapple with aging populations.

Europe’s conservatives, says Michel Winock, a historian at the Paris Institut d’Études Politiques, “have adapted themselves to modernity.” When Nicolas Sarkozy of France and Germany’s Angela Merkel condemn the excesses of the “Anglo-Saxon model” of capitalism while praising the protective power of the state, they are using Socialist ideas that have become mainstream, he said.
So, I find myself having to curb my enthusiasm for Angela Merkel's accomplishment. What she has done in Germany is important, but it will take far more to roll back the collectivist tide.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Sarah Hits the Stands

Sarah's autobiography will hit the stands on Nov. 17th. The title is "Going Rogue: An American Life".

Read about it here.


Today's headlines from Drudge:

Iran conducts third round of missile tests...
'Could reach Israel'...
Russia: Iranian missile tests cause concern...
Revolutionary Guards begin war games...
Venezuela exploring uranium deposits with Russia...
China to display upgraded missiles in parade...
India raises nuclear stakes; Can make high-yield weapons...

And this comes on top of last weeks foiling of terror plots here in the U.S.

U.S. Terror Suspects Accused of Targeting Marine Base [here]

Illinois Man Charged In Plot to Bomb Federal Officer [here]

Man to Be Arraigned In Dallas Skyscraper Bombing Plot [here]

Does anybody but me find it disturbing that the President of the U.S. in such challenging times should take off time to fly to Denmark to lobby for Chicago's Olympic bid?

Liberal Paranoia [cont.]

The MSM has been trying to convince us that Republicans and conservatives are paranoid conspiracy freaks. But it was no less than Bill Clinton who over the weekend reprised his wife's insane maunderings about the existence of a "vast right wing conspiracy" [here].

Yes there are paranoid conservatives, but they have always operated at the fringes of the movement, but ever since the Sixties, paranoid delusions have issued from the core of the Democrat Party. From the absurd allegations that right wing rhetoric inspired the assassination of John and Robert Kennedy to the current delusion that a vast right wing conspiracy is operating to frustrate left-wing programs and policies, paranoia has been a major element of the liberal world view and such idiocies have issued not from the fringe of the movement, but from the mouths and writings of its leaders.

This Day In History

I missed this earlier -- on this day in 1924 Marcello Mastrionni was born and ten years to the day after that Brigitte Bardot was born. They just don't make people any more beautiful than those two.

Today is "Ask a Stupid Question Day" (presumably in honor of the Washington Press Corps) so let's all get out there and be ourselves. Actually, the day was originally thought up by a classroom teacher trying to get students to ask more questions in class.

On this day in 1066 William, Duke of Normandy [also known as "William the Bastard" and "William the Conqueror"] landed troops at Pevensey Bay in Sussex, England. His purpose -- to challenge Harold Godwinson for the throne of England. Thus began the Norman Conquest.

And on this day in 1542 Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo sailed into San Diego Bay and claimed California for Spain.

And on this day in 1745 Bonnie Prince Charlie, "The Young Pretender" [Charles Edward Stuart, or in Gaelic Teàrlach Eideard Stiùbhairt] became King of Scotland. He then decided to invade England. That didn't work out very well, so he fled to France and spent the rest of his life drinking and fornicating.

And on this day in 1781 the Siege of Yorktown, the last major battle of the Revolutionary War, began.

And on this day in 1787 the Federal Constitution, having been approved by the Confederation Congress, was sent to the States for their approval. Thus began the long ratification debate that was not concluded until 1789. Few people today pay much attention to the ratification debate, preferring instead to focus on the deliberations at the Constitutional Convention or to simply read one set of documents produced during the debate, the "Federalist Papers". This is unfortunate because it was during the long public debate that the real meaning of the provisions of the Constitution was hashed out and the principles enshrined in the Bill of Rights articulated. If you want to understand the full meaning of the Constitution as it was understood by the Founders and their contemporaries, you have to consider the full range of opinion expressed in the debate, not just a few of the Federalist editorials. Fortunately, the most important of these documents have been collected by Harvard historian, Bernard Bailyn and are available in a two volume work titled Debate on the Constitution. It is part of the "Library of America" series. I recommend it very highly, especially for anyone who is interested in constitutional issues. It should be required reading in every law school in America.

And on this day in 1820 Fredrich Engels, who collaborated with Karl Marx on the Communist Manifesto was born.

And on this day in 1895 three Baptist groups met in Atlanta to form the National Baptist Convention. Today it is still the largest African-American religious demonination in America and, for that matter, in the world.

And on this day in 1902 Mansfield State Normal School in Mansfield, PA, played the first night football game against Wyoming Seminary at Smythe Park. Neither team was able to score, presumably because nobody could see what was happening, and the game was stopped at the half. Still, it counts as another Pennsylvania first. [read about it here]

On this day in 1919 the Giants defeated the Phillies 6-1 in 51 minutes -- still the fastest major league game on record.

On this day in 1941 the Phillies lost their 111th game of the season -- still a club record.

Reaganism, Thatcherism, Merkelism

The German elections provide more proof that European leftism is on the wane. Chancellor Merkel won re-election promising tax cuts and economic de-regulation. What is more, her margin of victory means that she no longer has to rely on a "grand coalition" that formerly restricted her conservative tendencies.

Bloomberg reports:
Sept. 28 (Bloomberg) -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she’ll press ahead with tax cuts and labor-market deregulation after winning re-election with enough support to govern with the pro-business Free Democrats.

With Germany struggling to recover from the deepest economic slump since World War II, voters spurned plans by Merkel’s Social Democratic challenger to raise taxes on top earners. Frank-Walter Steinmeier’s SPD had its worst postwar result in what he called a “bitter day” after sharing power with Merkel for four years and governing for the previous seven.

“There’s a clear sentiment in favor of economic changes, especially on income taxes,” Tilman Mayer, head of the Bonn- based Institute for Political Science, said in an interview. “Voters have turned their back on grand coalition-style compromise politics.”

Read about it here.

So, just as Europe begins to embrace Reaganite principles, the United States under Obama is precipitously veering in the opposite direction. Which course will prove to be the better one. We shall see, but I certainly wouldn't bet on Obama [if I had a choice in the matter].

The Health Benefits of MeganFox

In the past I've been highly critical of scientific studies that purport to confirm political or cultural biases, but Mark Steyn reports on one I can really get behind.
A study by German scientists showed that 10 minutes a day of ogling women’s breasts by men was as good at warding off heart disease, high blood pressure and stress as 30 minutes of aerobic exercise.
Read about it here. Follow his link for the latest on penguin poop.

Of course it depends on the breasts. Ten minutes ogling Megan Fox's breasts should be more benefit than several centuries in the company of Code Pink partisans. This clearly calls for more research. Now if we could only get Ms. Fox to volunteer some time.

OK, you got me. I only linked to Steyn's story in order to have an excuse to post the picture.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

More Pennsylvania Pictures -- Coal Country

We drove up through the coal region north of Pottsville recently. Here's a little bit of what we saw.

Row houses in Pottsville. This picture points up one of the problems of taking pictures in these towns. Power lines -- they're everywhere and, unless you are able to take your time and wander around on foot looking for the best angle, you just can't keep them out of your shots.

Ghost signs -- nearly weathered away, they provide a glimpse into the past. From horse stock dairy poultry and feed, to tires, carpets and rugs. The times, they were a changin'. You see a lot of these in the coal country. One of these days when I'm not on a tight schedule I'm going to go back to focus on them.

The old and the new. Right in the heart of anthracite country there is a heavy investment in wind energy. Back in the nineteenth century energy resources brought this region to prominence. Maybe it can happen again.

Steeples. Like the power lines they are everywhere in coal country -- churches and bars. Sounds a lot like the town I grew up in.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Obama's Disastrous Foreign Policy

Once again the "intelligence community" has screwed up big time. Anyone who has read Tim Weiner's Legacy of Ashes understands that this is about par for the course and has been since the CIA's inception, and that inaccuracies are often politically or ideologically driven. So too, as Victor Davis Hanson reminds us, is the journalistic response to intelligence screwups.

Remember all the outrage in the major media regarding the intelligence reports that Saddam Hussein was developing WMD? Of course you do. When it turned out that those weapons could not be found anger in the press was directed not at the intelligence services that had provided bad information, but at the Bush administration that had acted on bad information. The mantra that emerged was "Bush lied, people died". And of course "veteran intelligence professionals" were eager to push the line that the problem lay not with the intelligence services themselves but with the politicians who used the information they provided. And, also of course, the media and liberal commentators avidly promoted that line of argument.

Then in 2007 the intelligence professionals again issued a bogus report. This time a National Intelligence Estimate claimed that the Iranian government had halted their nuclear weapons development program in 2003 and had not since resumed it. Based on this estimate, which was widely leaked to the media, Democrat politicians and their media toadies developed a line of attack on the Bush administration and its confrontational stance toward Iran. Reluctantly, and to widespread international approbation, Bush adopted a more conciliatory stance toward the Iranian regime and liberals congratulated themselves for pulling the nation back from the brink of conflict.

Since then the "soft power" approach to Iran advocated by liberals has been spectacularly non-productive. Rather than moderating, the regime has been threatening a genocidal attack on Israel, has been supporting radical terrorist organizations throughout the region, including terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan who have killed Americans. And, as the public now learns, they have been continuing, even accelerating, their clandestine WMD programs.

And now we learn that Obama knew, as early as last year, that the 2007 NIE report was bogus and that Iran had in no way moderated its activities. Yet, even in possession of this knowledge Democrats not only concealed it from the public, they actually demagogued the issue. What is more, for months after assuming power, committed by their demagogic rhetoric to a non-confrontational, "soft power"approach to Iran the Obama administration stubbornly ignored heightened provocations and evidence that Iranian-backed forces were killing Americans, and recently refused to criticize the brutal suppression of democratic protests within Iran itself. And not only Iranian policy was affected. In support of the soft power approach Obama recently reversed the decision to supply our Eastern European allies with missile defense systems so as to get a newly-aggressive Russia on board for proposed sanctions. The consequences of this decision are to give Putin's Russia a green light for reasserting control over newly-freed peoples on their borders.

And, as Dr. Hanson reminds us, ignoring hostile acts for the sake of negotiations is dangerous business. The recent terror plots uncovered here in the U. S. make a conciliatory course even more so. If Iran successfully develops and is a position to disseminate nuclear devices the world will become a far more perilous place than it is now and no American community anywhere will be safe.

And Dr. Hanson wonders, where is the press on this most vital of issues? Why is there no outrage at the production of a bogus intelligence assessment that led to a change in policy? Why no outrage at the cynical suppression of evidence to the contrary? Why no consideration of the adverse effects that have ensued from the Democrats' manipulation of intelligence for political gain and in service of a questionable ideology?


If the American press has been content to ignore the perils of Obama's approach to foreign relations, the same cannot be said for Europe. At the recent UN gathering French President Sarkozy blasted Obama, calling his diplomacy "naive", a fact that was ignored by the U.S. media, but widely reported in Europe [see previous post here]. Now from Britain comes a devastating critique of Obama's policy with regard to Eastern Europe.

Obama has done more to restore Russia’s hegemonial potential in Eastern and Central Europe than even Vladimir Putin.

His latest achievement has been to restore the former satellite states to dependency on Moscow, by wimping out of the missile defence shield plan. This follows on his surrender last July when he voluntarily sacrificed around a third of America’s nuclear capability for no perceptible benefit beyond a grim smile from Putin. If there is one thing that fans the fires of aggression it is appeasement.


Thanks to President Pantywaist’s supine policies, the former satellite states can see that they are fast returning to their former status. The American umbrella cannot be relied upon on a rainy day.


If the word is out that America is in retreat, it will soon find it has no friends. The satellites will pragmatically accept their restored subordination, without openly acknowledging it, and co-operate with their dangerous neighbour, ushering in a new generation of Finlandisation.

Bringing unstable states like Georgia into Nato would be a liability, not a defence. The crazy notion of a US-Nato-Russian combined defence policy has all the staying power of the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact.


Barack Obama is selling out America and, by extension, the entire West. This is a catastrophe for America and the wider world.
Wow! No pulling punches there. Read the whole thing here.

"President Pantywaist" -- kinda like the sound of that.

Sarkozy Speaks Out

The MSM was far too busy giving Obama tongue baths over his dreamy proposal for a nuclear-free world to take much note of what French President Sarkozy had to say in response. It's important:

“President Obama dreams of a world without weapons … but right in front of us two countries are doing the exact opposite.

“Iran since 2005 has flouted five security council resolutions. North Korea has been defying council resolutions since 1993.

“I support the extended hand of the Americans, but what good has proposals for dialogue brought the international community? More uranium enrichment and declarations by the leaders of Iran to wipe a UN member state off the map,” he continued, referring to Israel.

The sharp-tongued French leader even implied that Mr Obama’s resolution 1887 had used up valuable diplomatic energy.

“If we have courage to impose sanctions together it will lend viability to our commitment to reduce our own weapons and to making a world without nuke weapons,” he said.

Mr Sarkozy has previously called the US president’s disarmament crusade “naive.”

Read it here.

As Big Government notes, Sarkozy's comments were widely reported in the world press. Why not in the American MSM?

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Cynic In Chief

Something really bothers me about the recent revelation that Iran has had a second, secret nuclear weapons production facility.

If the intelligence community, as it claims, has long been aware of this second facility, then our fine young president also knew about it and understood that the Iranian regime was lying to us and the international community. Yet he still stubbornly persisted in a policy based on the politically attractive assumption that the Iranian regime was trustworthy and susceptible to rational persuasion. And in furtherance of that policy, which he knew was doomed from the outset, he not only lied to the American people, he turned his back on Iran's democracy movement. Some say Obama is merely naive or incompetent, but these recent revelations show him to be profoundly amoral, cynical and duplicitous. Bush was right, the Iranians are not to be trusted and must be dealt with strongly, and Obama knows he was right -- he just refuses to admit it.

The Terror Threat Continues

The headlines are blood curdling:

U.S. Terror Suspects Accused of Targeting Marine Base [here]

Illinois Man Charged In Plot to Bomb Federal Officer [here]

Man to Be Arraigned In Dallas Skyscraper Bombing Plot [here]

Clearly, despite the assurances of the administration, the "Global War On Terror" is not over. And the election of Barak Hussein Obama to the presidency has not diminished the determination of Islamic radicals to do us harm, in fact it seems to have encouraged them in their course.

The latest round of arrests should wake the country to the continuing threat. In the past leftists and cynical Democrats greeted Bush administration warnings and arrests with scepticism, charging that the terror alerts were simply political ploys. The implication [and sometimes the explicit charge] was that the war on terror was a politically inspired fantasy cooked up by nefarious Republicans to justify constraints on civil liberties.

The first step toward accommodating reality came when Obama's administration decided to continue many of Bush's policies regarding surveillance, detention, interrogation, rendition, and the like. This caused no little amount of confusion on the Left. How could their new Messiah countenance the policies of the hated Bush? Now this latest round of arrests and charges, coming under the Obama administration should drive home, rather belatedly, the realization that there was a real threat and that the measures taken by the Bush administration to address it were reasonable and prudent.

At least we can hope.

Lies of the Left -- Disappearing Data On Climate Change

Wonderful piece over at NRO by Patrick Michaels on the deep duplicity of the British "scientists" who provided the basic data upon which the IPPC had based its climate change predictions. When asked to produce their data so it could be critiqued, they refused to do so and eventually said it had disappeared.

So their conclusions are unverifiable and are therefore "unscientific".

Read it here.

I Thought Obama Was Supposed To Bring Us Together

Violence on the streets of Pittsburgh. Read about it here.

Lefties and their tools in the MSM are still pushing the idea that conservatives are dangerous and violent, but in almost every case when violence erupts it is instigated from the Left. The behavior of these anarchists stands in stark contrast to the orderly protest observed at the Tea Parties. Once again history gives the lie to leftist attempts to construct a plausible self-serving narrative.

Instapundit writes: "Until we see scenes like this, I don’t want to hear yammering about the violence inherent in the Tea Party movement." [here].

Yammering indeed.

This Day In History

Today is national comic book day, so everyone go out there and improve your reading skills [at least that's what education "experts" say reading comics does for you -- that is, if you have the reading abilities of a three-year old].

On this day in 1513 Vasco Nunez de Balboa stood upon a peak in Darien and first saw the Pacific Ocean. There is so much to say about this fascinating and, to be frank, repulsive character, but I have not the time today. Read his Wikipedia entry here.

And on this day in 1555 the Peace of Augsburg was signed bringing to an end the long conflict between the Habsburg emperor Charles V, and the Schmalkaldic League. This document established the principle that local rulers could determine the formal religious affiliation of the people who resided in their realms and marked the first formal recognition by a Catholic monarch of the legitimacy of a Protestant faith [the Lutheran Church] and the ideal of a united Christendom in the West was forever abandoned.

On this day in 1890 the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints [Mormons] issued a "manifesto" prohibiting polygamy. The reason, the Supreme Court [in Davis v. Beason] had ruled unanimously that a territorial law denying the right of citizenship to practitioners of non-traditional marriage was constitutional. In addition Congress was refusing to grant Utah statehood until it abandoned the practice of polygamy. This court ruling has never been overturned, although a contrary ruling was issued in Romer v Evans in 1996. The two cases have never been reconciled. This is a potentially explosive issue, especially since Sharia law specifically endorses polygamy and there is a push on in Muslim communities to gain formal recognition of Islamic legal principles.

On this day in 1982 in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, George Emil Banks, a Camp Hill prison guard, slaughtered thirteen people including five of his own children. He claimed that it was a statement against racism. Later in life he declared war on Monica Lewinsky.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Latest From Iowahawk

Iowahawk takes on the NEA scandal.

Earn big bucks from art, sign up now for the Federal Art Instruction Institute:
Federal Art Instruction Institute doesn't waste your time on boring Post-Modernist theory, messy bodily fluids, or painful self mutilation. With our easy-to-learn program you will quickly learn how to channel your natural artistic ability and suburban self-loathing at state enemies who, when you think about it, are a lot like your parents.

Can you draw triangles? The Federal Art Instruction Institute will show you the easy way to turn them into Ku Klux Klan hoods. Turn them upside down and they become scary vampire fangs! Even a simple black rectangle can become a Hitler mustache with our easy to learn methods.

Our award winning studio instructors includes some of the top young professional kowtowers, bumnuzzlers and bootlicks working in the government art field today....

Read the whole thing here.

Palin's Hong Kong Speech

Barbara Curtis has a roundup of reactions to Sarah's Hong Kong speech. What is surprising is how positive most of the MSM accounts were. Curtis wonders, "Maybe they’re noting the contrast with Obama at the UN?"

Check it out here.


Roger Kimball explains why the attempt to enlist National Endowment for the Arts members into the Obama movement is a really creepy and sinister thing:
There is a German word for what we are witnessing at the NEA and elsewhere in the Obama administration’s effort to push its agenda. It is Gleichschaltung. It means two things: first, bringing all aspects of life into conformity with a given political line. And second, as a prerequisite for realizing that goal, the obliteration or at least marginalization of all opposition.
Read the whole thing here.

This sort of thing is disturbing because it reveals, not just hardball politics, but a twisted totalitarian sensibility among Obama's supporters. These young zealots are really scary people.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Obama Snubs Brown

Obama seems to really, really, really dislike Brits. Ever since he took office there has been a constant stream of snubs directed against Britain. The Guardian reveals the extent of the contempt:
Gordon Brown lurched from being hailed as a global statesman to intense embarrassment tonight, after it emerged US President Barack Obama had turned down no fewer than five requests from Downing Street to hold a bilateral meeting at the United Nations in New York or at the G20 summit starting in Pittsburgh today.
Read it here.

Actually, he doesn't seem to think much of any of the European nations. Could it be that he's just not that impressed by Western culture?

This Day In History

Today is "Checkers Day" [alternatively known as "Dog in Politics Day"]. The reference is to Richard Nixon and his famous "Checkers" speech. Back in 1952 when Nixon was being considered for Vice President political opponents charged that he had taken an illegal gift of several thousand dollars. Nixon struck back by going on TV to specifically refute the allegations. He closed his appearance by noting that there was one exception: his daughters had been given a dog, "Checkers", as a gift and they were going to keep it no matter what. The audience ate it up and Nixon, for perhaps the last time in his life, emerged as a sympathetic character.

On this day in 1779 a seven-ship American squadron commanded by John Paul Jones, commanding from the deck of Bom Homme Richard, defeat and capture the British warship Serapis. It was during this battle that Jones, when asked by the British commander if he wished to surrender, issued his famous statement "I have not yet begun to fight". With his own ship sinking under him, Jones grappled with the British ship, immobilizing it while other ships in the squadron fired on both combatants. Realizing he could not escape, the British commander surrendered and Jones took possession of the Serapis while his own ship was scuttled. This was a minor confrontation, actually a diversion from the major battle shaping up between British and French fleets, but reports of the victory made Jones a popular hero in America and France. The Brits considered him to be a pirate.

On this day in 1806 the Lewis and Clark expedition returns to St. Louis after three years exploring the northwest. The "Corps of Discovery", headed by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, had been sent westward by President Thomas Jefferson to find out just what was in that vast Louisiana territory he had just purchased and most importantly to find a water route to the Pacific. Needless to say they failed to find one. This was not the first trans-continental journey. Cabeza de Vaca and four companions had traversed the continent from Florida to California in 1536, and Sir Alexander Mackensie had explored the breadth of Canada in 1793. Nor was the Lewis and Clark expedition particularly fruitful. They did catalogue a number of plants and animals, so naturalists gained some information, and they did enjoy good relations with some of the Indian peoples they encountered, but as many historians have noted the expedition did not lead to anything of importance. There was no followup. The account of the expedition is, however, a rousing good story that appeals to the popular imagination and has been told and retold time and again, and that is important because it tells us something about how Americans see their national history.

And on this day in 1845 a group of young men led by New York fireman and "town ball" enthusiast, Alexander Joy Cartwright, formed a club called the "Knickerbockers", rented the "Elysian Fields" in Hoboken, New Jersey on which to play, and adopted formal rules for playing a game they called "base ball".

And on this day in 1912 Mack Sennett, the original "King of Comedy", issued his first "Keystone Kops" film. Sennett is largely forgotten today, but he was an amazing figure. He started in vaudeville as a singer, dancer, and clown, moved to Hollywood and did odd jobs for the early studios, then talked some money men into backing him and established a small studio and began churning our short comedy films. He had a talent for taking obscure talents and turning them into major stars. Among the stars who got their start with Sennett were Mabel Normand, Ben Turpin, Charlie Chaplin, Gloria Swanson, Bing Crosby, and W. C. Fields. Through the twenties Sennett moved from success to success, then in the 1930s public tastes changed and he didn't. After producing several flops his backers abandoned him and by 1933 he was bankrupt. In 1938, after producing more than a thousand films he retired at age 55 and finished out his days in relative obscurity. Great Hollywood story, isn't it?

And on this day in 1939 the Dodgers, led by Cookie Lavagetto who went 6 for 6, the Dodgers cranked out 27 hits and smashed the hapless Phillies 22-4.

On this day in 1990 Saddam Hussein pledges to "destroy Israel". That didn't work out quite the way he expected.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

This Day In History

Today is Elephant Appreciation Day, so go out and find an elephant and hug him/her. If you can't find an elephant, a Republican will do.

Today is also 1 Vendémiaire of An I in the French Revolutionary Calendar, the first day of the first month of the first year of the First Republic of France.

On this date in 2390 [Shire Reckoning] Bilbo Baggins was born.

And on this day in 1776 Captain Nathan Hale was hanged as a spy by the British in New York City.

On this day in 1862, Abraham Lincoln announced his Emancipation Proclamation. At the time this was a hugely controversial act and it has remained so. The wikipedia article [here] does a pretty good job of sketching out the major lines of controversy. Technically, Lincoln's proclamation did not free any slaves, nor was it primarily intended to do so [it was meant to encourage secessionist states to rejoin the Union and also to influence British public opinion] , but it inspired many slaves to seek their own freedom and, in the eyes of some military commanders and politicians, made freeing the slaves a major war aim.

And on this day in 1911 Cy Young, age 44, shut out the Pirates to notch his 511th [yes, that's right..., 511] career victory.

And on this date in 1960 Joan Jett, a girl who really loves rock-'n-roll, was born in Philly, and on the very same day Scott Baio was born in New York. Wow.

And one year to the day after Joan and Scott were born President Kennedy established the Peace Corps [hey, just connecting the dots, as Glenn Beck would say].

And on this date in 1975 Sara Jane Moore tried and failed to assassinate President Ford. [Coincidence? I think not!]

And on this date in 1980 Saddam Hussein launches an attack on Iran, initiating one of the bloodiest conflicts since WWII. [I'm not saying Joan and Scott had anything to do with it, but you gotta wonder.]

Monday, September 21, 2009

Media Mayhem

Iowahawk, still the funniest man on the net, exposes a crime link that the MSM refuses to touch:

A Denver newspaper columnist is arrested for stalking a story subject. In Cincinnati, a television reporter is arrested on charges of child molestation. A North Carolina newspaper reporter is arrested for harassing a local woman. A drunken Chicago Sun-Times columnist and editorial board member is arrested for wife beating. A Baltimore newspaper editor is arrested for threatening neighbors with a shotgun. In Florida, one TV reporter is arrested for DUI, while another is charged with carrying a gun into a high school. A Philadelphia news anchorwoman goes on a violent drunken rampage, assaulting a police officer. In England, a newspaper columnist is arrested for killing her elderly aunt.

Unrelated incidents, or mounting evidence of that America's newsrooms have become a breeding ground for murderous, drunk, gun-wielding child molesters? Answers are elusive, but the ever-increasing toll of violent crimes committed by journalists has led some experts to warn that without programs for intensive mental health care, the nation faces a potential bloodbath at the hands of psychopathic media vets.

Read the whole thing here.

Wehner On Beck

Peter Wehner looks at Glenn Beck and doesn't like what he sees. He writes:

[Beck] isn’t the face or disposition that should represent modern-day conservatism. At a time when we should aim for intellectual depth, for tough-minded and reasoned arguments, for good cheer and calm purpose, rather than erratic behavior, he is not the kind of figure conservatives should embrace or cheer on.
Read it here.

I can understand how some delicate souls could find Beck hard to take, but his voice is just as legitimate as the "tough-minded and reasoned" arguments Wehner treasures. Conservatives should never turn their backs on expressions of "populist" angst lest they find themselves alone in a small place talking only to their peers. Complex exposition and sophisticated argument has a place, to be sure -- in the seminar rooms or the little journals -- but Beck speaks to and for the American people in the millions and their voice and opinions cannot and should not be ignored.

He Lies!

Neo-Neocon listened to Obama's TV performances over the weekend and concludes that the only appropriate response is to shout, "liar, liar, pants on fire!"

Read the whole thing here.

Decision Time

It's fish or cut bait time in Afghanistan. From the WaPo:

The top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan warns in an urgent, confidential assessment of the war that he needs more forces within the next year and bluntly states that without them, the eight-year conflict "will likely result in failure," according to a copy of the 66-page document obtained by The Washington Post.

Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal says emphatically: "Failure to gain the initiative and reverse insurgent momentum in the near-term (next 12 months) -- while Afghan security capacity matures -- risks an outcome where defeating the insurgency is no longer possible."

His assessment was sent to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates on Aug. 30 and is now being reviewed by President Obama and his national security team.

McChrystal concludes the document's five-page Commander's Summary on a note of muted optimism: "While the situation is serious, success is still achievable."

That's a pretty stark choice. Let's hope Obama does the right thing.

UH OH, this does not look good:

The Hill reports:

President Barack Obama is warning U.S. commanders that he’s “skeptical” about whether more troops will make a difference in Afghanistan, saying he’ll approve an upcoming request only if the forces fit into a strategy to beat back al-Qaida and protect the United States.

“Until I'm satisfied that we've got the right strategy I'm not gonna be sending some young man or woman over there — beyond what we already have,” Obama said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “I'm not interested in just being in Afghanistan for the sake of being in Afghanistan or saving face or, in some way – you know, sending a message that America is here for the duration.”

But, the only way to win a protracted contest of wills is to make it clear that you are there for the duration, no matter what. This is terribly naive talk that can only hearten our enemies. More and more Obama is being perceived as the weak horse.

Out Of His Depth

You can count on the Brits to tell it like it is. From the Telegraph regarding our fine young President:
The picture emerging from the White House is a disturbing one, of timidity, clumsiness and short-term calculation. Some say he is the weakest president since Jimmy Carter.

The grizzled veterans of the Democratic leadership in Congress have found Mr Obama and his team of bright young advisers a pushover.

His free trade credentials are increasingly tarnished too.

Even good moves are ruined by bad presentation.

Mr Obama's public image rests increasingly heavily on his extraordinary speechifying abilities.

But for what? Mr Obama has tactics a plenty - calm and patient engagement with unpleasant regimes, finding common interests, appealing to shared values - but where is the strategy? What, exactly, did "Change you can believe in" – the hallmark slogan of his campaign – actually mean?

The man who has run nothing more demanding than the Harvard Law Review is beginning to look out of his depth in the world's top job. His credibility is seeping away, and it will require concrete achievements rather than more soaring oratory to recover it.
Read the whole thing here.

Amen! Although I would quibble with one thing. I never found his speeches particularly inspiring, but then I'm not sixteen years old or a Democrat partisan.

This Day In History

Today has been specified by the United Nations as the "International Day of Peace", timed to coincide with the opening of the General Assembly. That's all very well for the international thuggocracy meeting in New York, but I prefer to think of today as "National Miniature Golf Day".

On this day in 1327 deposed King Edward II of England was murdered in Berkeley Castle, probably on orders from his wife. He was the son of Edward I "Longshanks" and the father of Edward III, two of the strongest and most celebrated Kings of England. Edward IIs reputation has suffered in comparison with his dad and his lad. He is widely considered to have been a homosexual, although he sired five children and is regarded as an exceptionally weak king. His major accomplishment was founding universities at Oxford and Cambridge. If you have trouble placing him, rent a copy of Mel Gibson's "Braveheart". He's the guy whose boyfriend is defenestrated by Longshanks.

And on this day in 1520 Suleiman [the Magnificent] became Sultan of the Ottoman Empire. He ruled for 46 years, conquered much of Eastern Europe, Northern Africa, and the Middle East. His fleets dominated the Mediterranean, the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf and much of the Indian Ocean. He made Turkey the superpower of the sixteenth century. In 1529 his forces were finally halted at the seige of Vienna, one of the great turning points in the history of the West.

Just after midnight on this day in 1777 British forces under the command of Gen. Charles Gray, launched a surprise attack on a Continental Army division under the command of Mad Anthony Wayne quartered at Malvern, PA. The Brits attacked from the woods using bayonets and caught Wayne's forces as they slept. In the ensuing panic 53 Continentals were killed, 113 wounded, and 71 taken prisoner. British losses were 4 dead and 5 wounded.

The attack was a stunning military success, but a public relations disaster. Americans started the rumor that the Redcoats had rounded up and slaughtered prisoners, granting no quarter. They emphasized that the Brits had attacked with bayonets, considered at that time to be a barbaric and needlessly cruel weapon. The charges were false, the Brits behaved honorably and did take prisoners, but American propaganda made the dead into martyrs and the Malvern incident became known as the Paoli Massacre, a rallying point for colonial resistance. Even before the age of mass media spin could transform a disaster into a victory. There is a brilliant fictional description of the battle in Bernard Cornwell's Redcoat which I highly recommend.

And on this day in 1784 the "Pennsylvania Packet and Daily Advertiser" America's first successful daily newspaper, was published in Philadelphia.

On this day in 1792 the revolutionary French National Convention formally established the First French Republic. This was France's first experiment with republican government and it only lasted twelve years. They kept trying though. Today we are dealing with the "Fifth French Republic". Let's hope they finally got it right this time.

On this day in 1814 Francis Scott Key's poem "Defence of Fort McHenry" was published in the Baltmore American. Later it was set to the tune of "To Anacreon in Heaven", an almost unsingable British drinking song, and in 1931 Congress made the resulting song, "The Star Spangled Banner" our national anthem.

And on this day in 1937 J. R. R. Tolkien published "The Hobbit".

And this is for Larry (who used to command one of these things), on this day in 1954 the first nuclear submarine, the Nautilus, was commissioned.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Sand Art

Sand drawing by Kseniya Simonova. Simply amazing!

Another Obama Takeover?

From The Hill:

Obama open to newspaper bailout bill

By Michael O'Brien - 09/20/09 04:24 PM ET
The president said he is "happy to look at" bills before Congress that would give struggling news organizations tax breaks if they were to restructure as nonprofit businesses.

"I haven't seen detailed proposals yet, but I'll be happy to look at them," Obama told the editors of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Toledo Blade in an interview.

Read it here.

Great! Government-subsidized newspapers. Just what we need!


One of Don Surber's readers writes:
The U.S. Post Service was established in 1775 - you [the government] have had 234 years to get it right; it is broke.

Social Security was established in 1935 - you have had 74 years to get it right; it is broke.

Fannie Mae was established in 1938 - you have had 71 years to get it right; it is broke.

War on Poverty started in 1964 - you have had 45 years to get it right; $1 trillion of our money is confiscated each year and transferred to “the poor”; it hasn’t worked.

Medicare and Medicaid were established in 1965 - you’ve had 44 years to get it right; they’re broke

Freddie Mac was established in 1970 - you have had 39 years to get it right; it is broke

So with a perfect 100% failure rate and a record that proves that “services” you shove down our throats are failing faster and faster, you want Americans to believe you can be trusted with a government-run health care system?

15% of our economy? Are you crazy?

Read the whole thing here.

This Day In History

I don't normally post this sort of stuff on Sunday, but I couldn't ignore a couple of things.

First of all, on this day in 1933 the Pittsburgh Football Pirates [later renamed the Steelers] played their first NFL game. They lost 23-2.

And today marks the birthday of one of the greatest jazzmen of all time -- Mr Jelly Roll Morton. In commemoration here's the "Original Jelly Roll Blues" played by the man himself.

And on this day in 1934 Sophia Loren was born in Rome. You cannot imagine what the first sight of her on the big screen meant to a ten year old boy. Time has not been kind to her, but back then..., wow!

More Pennsylvania Pictures -- Walking with Animals

Last week we spent an afternoon at the Lake Tobias animal park just north of Harrisburg. Fun time. Here's a bit of what we saw.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

This Day In History

AAAAAAAAAAAAARGH, Matey! Today is "National Talk Like A Pirate Day". That may be all right for the rest of you, but for me this is the first day of Octoberfest, and pirate lingo just doesn't fit with the beerhall atmosphere.

On this date in 1356 British forces under the command of Edward, the "Black Prince", defeated a numerically superior French army at Poitiers. It was a huge win for the Brits at the time [they actually captured the French King], but in the course of the "Hundred Years War" it was far from decisive. Nevertheless the battle remains a prominent feature in the British national narrative.

On this day in 1692 Giles Corey stood before a court in Salem, Massachusetts accused of witchcraft. He refused to answer the charges against him so he was pressed to death under a pile of rocks. Here's the Wikipedia description of the process:

As a result of his refusal to plead, on September 17, Sheriff Jonathan Corwin led Corey to a pit in the open field beside the jail and..., before the Court and witnesses, stripped Giles of his clothing, laid him on the ground in the pit, and placed boards on his chest. Six men then lifted heavy stones, placing them one by one, on his stomach and chest. Giles Corey did not cry out, let alone make a plea.

After two days, Giles was asked three times to plead innocent or guilty to witchcraft. Each time he replied "more weight". More and more rocks were piled onto him, and the Sheriff, from time to time, would stand on the boulders staring down at Corey's bulging eyes. Robert Calef, who was a witness along with other townsfolk, later said, "in the pressing, Giles Corey's tongue was pressed out of his mouth; the Sheriff, with his cane, forced it in again".

Three mouthfuls of bread and water were fed to the old man during his many hours of pain. Finally, Giles Corey cried out at Sheriff Corwin, "I curse you Corwin and all of Salem!" and died.

Read the whole thing here.

On this day in 1737 Charles Carroll, the only Catholic signatory of the Declaration of Independence, was born in Annapolis, MD.

And on this day in 1846 Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning eloped -- how romantic!

And on this day in 1881 President James Garfield died of wounds inflicted by the assassin Charles Guiteau. Guiteau, a failure at many things, was certainly insane and at his trial several prominent figures in the emerging field of psychology testified. Charles Rosenberg has a wonderful book on the subject.

And on this day in 1918 fighting broke out between Red Army troops and American forces near the town of Seltso in Bryansk Oblast, Russia. I wonder how many Americans realize that we invaded the Soviet Union during the First World War. The Russians remember.

On this day in 1928 "Steamboat Willie" was screened at the Colony Theater in New York. This marked the first screen appearance of Mickey Mouse. You can watch it here. Thirty-one years to the day later Soviet Premier, Nikita Khrushchev was denied entry to Disneyland [security concerns] he was not amused.

And on this day in 1955 Argentinian dictator, Juan Peron, resigned and fled the country. Good riddance!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Anti-Government Demonstrations in Iran

It's not just in Washington that the people are getting thoroughly fed up with their government. Once again "tens of thousands" of demonstrators took to the streets of Tehran and other Iranian cities to protest Ahmdeinejad's regime.

From the LA Times:
[W]itnesses reported that demonstrators chanting anti-government slogans had taken complete control of Tehran's expansive Seventh of Tir Square. Video posted to YouTube showed thousands of others holding up green ribbons and rallying peacefully in Tehran, Esfahan and Shiraz. Late in the morning came reports of tear gas being fired into crowds in the capital, but they could not be confirmed.
Read the whole thing here.

The Iranian protesters just aren't going away. Neither are America's tea party protesters. Here's hoping their persistence pays off and that the regimes they are opposing will reconsider the feckless courses on which they have embarked.

This Day In History

Today is National Cheeseburger Day. Time for a trip to "Five Guys" or at least "Wendy's". More seriously, today is POW/MIA Recognition Day, so take some time to remember those who have suffered terribly in our nation's service.

On this day in 1759 the French surrender Quebec to the British. We discussed this before so that's all I have to say on the subject.

And on this day in 1812 Moscow was still burning.

On this day in 1818 Chile declares its independence from Spain. This is for Leonora -- "Happy Independence Day".

On this day in 1850, as part of several acts collectively known as the "Compromise of 1850", Congress passed the "Fugitive Slave Act". Although these acts managed to forestall the threat of secession and preserved the Union for a while, they contained elements, like the Fugitive Slave Act, that would act as a constant irritant and would contribute to creating the crisis that eventually brought on the Civil War. The Fugitive Slave Act was of particular importance because it required Federal officials to assist slave catchers and authorized them to raise posses of local citizens to apprehend escaped slaves. This led to numerous confrontations between federal agents and the authorities of anti-slavery states. One of the most notable such confrontations, the Christiana Riot took place near Lancaster, PA. It's a fascinating story -- check it out.

On this day in 1851 the New York Times began publishing. At one time it was a pretty good, maybe even a great, paper, but those days are now a fading memory. The Times' prominence was almost entirely due to location, location, location. Being the dominant paper in New York meant it had the largest daily readership of any daily paper in the country and its stories were distributed nationally by wire services. Then, through most of the twentieth century it was the home town paper of the people who ran the broadcasting industry and its stories have therefore set the agenda for radio and TV news organizations.

And on this day in 1895 Booker T. Washington delivered his famous "Atlanta Compromise" speech [read it here]. In it he laid out a conservative approach to race relations in America that stood in contrast to the radical "progressive" vision of W. E. B. DuBois. Washington argued that Blacks should work hard, take care of their families, act in a respectable and respectful manner, be good citizens, and gradually over time win acceptance by the white majority. DuBois instead argued that Blacks should stand together to challenge the White power structure and win through confrontation positions of power and influence for the "Talented Tenth" [the educated elite] of the Afro-American population -- positions that they could then use to promote the welfare of their less talented brothers. Tension between these two alternate positions has long dominated thinking on civil rights in America. What is fascinating is the extent to which President Obama represents a synthesis of both visions.

On that very same day Daniel David Palmer -- beekeeper, school teacher, dry-goods merchant, and "magnetic healer" -- performed the first chiropractic adjustment, giving birth to a thriving field of alternative medical practice.

On this day in 1925 Pirate pitcher, Harvey "Twelve Inning Perfect Game" Haddix was born. Bob Prince used to call him "the Kitten". Not sure how he felt about that.

And on this day CBS, another once-prominent but now disreputable news source, began broadcasting.

And on this day in 1928 the Cards beat the Phillies 8-5. It was the twentieth time that season that they had conquered the Phils. Consider that, losing twenty times in the same season to the same team! Wow!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

What Is Sarah Up To?

Barbara Curtis tells you here.

Abandoning Our Allies

Obama just threw our Eastern European allies under the bus. The WaPo reports:

President Obama appears poised to abandon plans for a missile defense system based in Poland and the Czech Republic that had been embraced by the administration of former president George W. Bush and cheered in Eastern Europe, buthad deeply angered Russian leaders.

Czech Prime Minister Jan Fischer told reporters Thursday that Obama had called him overnight to personally inform him of his decision, according to wire service and other news reports.

Read it here.

This seems to be the price for Russian cooperation with us in dealing with Iran. Once again the world sees that under Obama the United States is an inconstant and unreliable ally. As with so much that this administration does, we will be paying the price for this treachery for a long, long time.

This Day In History

Today used to be called "Constitution Day" [for reasons to be discussed below], now it is "Citizenship Day". I, however, plan to celebrate "National Apple Dumpling Day".

On this day in 642 A.D., according to Christian sources, Muslim armies sacked Alexandria in Egypt. During the devastation that ensued the Library of Alexandria was burned and its vast repository of knowledge was lost for all time.

The Royal Library had been founded by the Ptolemys [Macedonian rulers of Egypt -- Cleopatra's family] and became the largest and most famous repository of texts in the ancient world. There is no contemporary evidence to support Plutarch's allegation that Julius Caesar burned the library during his conquest of Egypt [and Cleo]. Plutarch's charge seems to have been politically motivated and there is ample evidence that the Library was a going concern long after Caesar passed from the scene. The current government of Egypt officially claims that the Library was destroyed by a Christian mob instigated by the Roman Emperor Theodosius during the late Fourth Century AD. and absolves Muslim invaders of all responsibility, but Christian historians claim that the Library survived until Muslim armies, led by Amr ibn al 'Aas, sacked the city. These conflicting accounts are a powerful illustration of the way history is used for propaganda purposes and they highlight the difficulty of sorting through evidence to find what really happened. In the case of the destruction of the Library of Alexandria we really don't know and modern historians, flailing around for some rational explanation, have decided that there were several libraries and several incidents of destruction. But then the evidence to support that contention is problematic, too.

And on this day in 1717 the first Synod of the Presbyterian Church in America met in Philadelphia.

And on this date in 1778, at Fort Pitt in western Pennsylvania, a formal alliance between the Lenape Nation and the "United States of America In Congress Assembled" was signed. This "Treaty With the Delawares" was the first formal treaty between the "United States" and any Indian nation. The treaty recognized the sovereignty of the Lenape nation and confirmed its territorial integrity but, as was so often the case, these provisions were breached soon after the treaty was signed.

And on this date in 1787 the Philadelphia Convention adopted the final draft of a plan of government to be submitted to be submitted to the various American States for consideration. The Convention had originally met in May, 1787 for the purpose of amending the Articles Of Confederation that defined the rules under which and the specific areas in which the American States had agreed to cooperate. A small, but committed group of "nationalists" among the delegates took charge of the proceedings and steered the delegates toward a sweeping redefinition of the relations among the States and the creation of a central governing authority. The result was a document we call the Constitution of the United States. It was a compromise document that left many of the most important issues facing the delegates unresolved and most of them dissatisfied, but as Benjamin Franklin noted it was probably the best they could do under the circumstances.

Two years of debate ensued before the Constitution was finally agreed to by nine States and went into effect therein. The ratification debate exposed the many weaknesses of the document, refined understanding of the basic concepts it embodied, and mandated extensive changes to be made in the future. Much has been made in recent years about the "Founders" and their intentions, but the reality of the situation was far more complex and ambiguous than most people appreciate.

And on this date in 1796 George Washington issued his "Farewell Address". This was not a formal speech, rather it was in the form of a letter to the "People of America". The original text had been written by Washington and James Madison back in 1792 when Washington was considering retirement, but he was convinced to stick it out in the Presidency for four more years and so it was filed away. Then near the end of Washington's second term of office it was retrieved, edited by Alexander Hamilton, and issued in the form of a press release on September 17th. Two days later it first appeared in the press. In his "address" Washington was primarily concerned with the many threats, both internal and external, faced by the American republic. He urged the public to support the Union of States and the Constitution, to reject secession, and to reject amendments to the Constitution that would weaken the authority of the Federal Government. It was only by standing together and speaking with one voice, he argued, that the United States could withstand pressures from and gain concessions from the great powers that threatened the existence of the republic.

Washington warned against the formation of political parties, against sectional loyalties, against tax revolts, and against any other passion that would produce internal conflict and undermine the unity of the nation. He praised the concept of divided authority and separation of powers as a way to keep any faction from becoming dominant. He argued that religion was the essential basis for public and private morality required for good governance. He warned against the accumulation of public debt. He advocated free trade with all nations, but warned against any "entangling alliances" that might provide an excuse for other nations to interfere in America's affairs.

Taken together the sentiments expressed in the "Farewell Address" add up to a determinedly pessimistic view of the American experiment in self-government. Washington saw dangers everywhere and feared that the nation could not long survive. It was a document specific to a unique historical set of circumstances. It was not an expression of timeless principles to be applied in all times and situations.

In a way Washington was right to be pessimistic. The republican experiment initiated in 1787 ultimately failed, but not until the 1860s when the United States dissolved into civil war. Today also marks the anniversary of the bloodiest single day of that conflict when 26,293 young men died in the cornfield, the bloody lane, Burnside's bridge, and other sites on the battlefield of Antietam. In the wake of this terrible war the republican vision of "the founders" was drastically revised by the "reconstruction amendments" [nos. 13, 14, 15] to the Constitution that vastly increased the powers of the central government.

And finally, on this day in 1939 the Soviet Union invaded Poland. Let us not forget that the Soviet Union was just as complicit in the aggressions that led to the outbreak of World War Two as was Nazi Germany.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

More On The Greatest American Hero

Gregg Easterbrook writes:

Norman Borlaug arguably the greatest American of the 20th century died late Saturday after 95 richly accomplished years. The very personification of human goodness, Borlaug saved more lives than anyone who has ever lived. He was America's Albert Schweitzer: a brilliant man who forsook privilege and riches in order to help the dispossessed of distant lands. That this great man and benefactor to humanity died little-known in his own country speaks volumes about the superficiality of modern American culture.
Read the whole thing here and be amazed at what one man can accomplish.


Iowahawk has a wonderful farewell to this greatest of heroes. Read "Farm boy" here.

This Day In History

Today is Independence Day in Malaysia and Singapore. It is interesting to track the independent history of the two countries. In Malaysia the Chinese population was persecuted and suppressed by the Malay Muslim majority, in Singapore the Chinese ruled. Singapore today is one of the richest per capita nations in the world [4th highest according to the IMF; 3rd according to the World Bank]. Malaysia, not so much [60th according to the IMF; 48th according to the World Bank -- 2008 figures]. Neither place has much respect for individual freedoms.

And closer to home today is Mexican Independence Day. On this day in 1810 Father Miguel Hidalgo called upon the people to rise up against Spainish rule [the "Grito de Dolores"]. This was the beginning of the Mexican War of Independence.

On this day in 1620 the Mayflower set sail from Plymouth, England for the New World. On board were 48 crew members and 101 settlers [35 of them "Separatists" from the Leyden congregation -- the folks we call "Pilgrims"].

On this day in 1812 Moscow was burning. Retreating Russian troops decided to destroy the city rather than to allow the French to occupy it. In the ensuing fire three quarters of the city was obliterated. Napoleon was not pleased.

And on this day in 1893 the largest and most famous of the Oklahoma land rushes started as the Cherokee Strip was opened to white settlement. At noon a cannon fired and 100,000 hopeful settlers raced to claim their stakes. They found that the best parcels had already been taken by "Sooners" who had jumped the gun. A lot of nastiness resulted. As far as the Cherokee were concerned, the real nastiness had already taken place. Read about it here.

And on this day in 1925 jazzman Charlie Byrd and bluesman B. B. King were both born. Wow!

On this day in 1930 the Phillies and the Pirates played the Greatest! Game! Evah!!! Going into the bottom of the ninth the Pirates were leading 10-5. The Phillies rallied to score five runs and send the game into extra innings. In the top of the tenth the Pirates unloaded for four runs to take a 14-10 lead. Then in the bottom of the inning the Phils scored five times to win 15-14. Whew!!!!

And on this day in 1950 the U.S. Eighth Army, led by General Walton Walker, broke out of the Pusan Perimeter and raced north to link up with Douglas McArthur's forces moving south from Inchon. At the time this seemed to be a good strategic move, but failure to round up and neutralize demoralized North Korean forces proved to be a big problem when China decided to jump into the fray.

And on this day in 1972 Phillies Third Baseman Michael Jack Schmidt hit his first major league home run.

And on this day in 1975 the Pirates beat the Cubs 22-zip with Rennie Stennett getting seven hits in seven at bats. Way to go Rennie!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


We have "birthers" and "truthers"; now Neo-Neocon comes up with a new term, "racers". Here's how she explains it:

For the sake of convenience, I’ve decided to call people like Maureen Dowd, who see hidden racism in every complaint about Obama, “racers.”

If I could sum up the underpinnings of their position, it would be a riff on Descartes’s proof of existence: “I think, therefore I am.” For racers, it goes something like this: “I think it, therefore it is.”

Such thoughts don’t require logic or evidence—just a gut feeling, a hunch, and to racers that makes them real.
An excellent term -- I think I'm going to start using it. Thanks, Neo.

Read her whole post here.

Norman Borlaug -- A Sane and Compassionate Man

Reading through the many tributes to Norman Borlaug published this week I ran across a piece from Technology Review that contained this description of the greatest man of our time's opinion of fashionable environmentalism:

Norm exuded an old-school charm in person, but had little truck for those with no experience of the "back-breaking" hardship of actually growing food. Even in his tenth decade, his passion was for the poor. He politely, but witheringly, disdained the indulgences of the comfortable cadre of environmentalists in the West who knew not of what they speak. (He also had sharp and pithy words about the synthetic pesticide DDT, not least in terms of the near-genocidal impact of banning it on countless millions of African malaria sufferers). He was a big hitter in a debate all too often mired in emotionalism.
Read the whole thing here.

If you would honor this great, great man who at the time of his death was organizing a global effort to fight the spread of wheat rust, which threatens the food supplies of hundreds of millions of people, visit the site of the Borlaug Global Rust Initiative [here] and throw a couple of bucks their way. You could find no better cause to support.