History

Trump Has More Civil War Issues

Between the 14th hole and the 15th tee of one of the club’s two courses, Mr. Trump installed a flagpole on a stone pedestal overlooking the Potomac, to which he affixed a plaque purportedly designating “The River of Blood.”

“Many great American soldiers, both of the North and South, died at this spot,” the inscription reads. “The casualties were so great that the water would turn red and thus became known as ‘The River of Blood.’ ”

The inscription, beneath his family crest and above Mr. Trump’s full name, concludes: “It is my great honor to have preserved this important section of the Potomac River!

Like many of Mr. Trump’s claims, the inscription was evidently not fact-checked.

“No. Uh-uh. No way. Nothing like that ever happened there,” said Richard Gillespie, the executive director of the Mosby Heritage Area Association, a historical preservation and education group devoted to an 1,800-square-mile section of the Northern Virginia Piedmont, including the Lowes Island site.

“The only thing that was remotely close to that,” Mr. Gillespie said, was 11 miles up the river at the Battle of Ball’s Bluff in 1861, a rout of Union forces in which several hundred were killed. “The River of Blood?” he added. “Nope, not there.”

Mr. Gillespie’s contradiction of the plaque’s account was seconded by Alana Blumenthal, the curator of the Loudoun Museum in nearby Leesburg. (A third local expert, who said he had written to Mr. Trump’s company about the inscription’s falsehoods and offered to provide historically valid replacement text, insisted on anonymity because he did not want to cross the Trump Organization by disclosing a private exchange.)

And It Was Only Monday

Politico:

President Donald Trump questioned why the Civil War— which erupted 150 years ago over slavery — needed to happen. He said he would be “honored” to meet with Kim Jong-Un, the violent North Korean dictator who is developing nuclear missiles and oppresses his people, under the “right circumstances.”

The president floated, and backed away from, a tax on gasoline. Trump said he was “looking at” breaking up the big banks, sending the stock market sliding. He seemed to praise Philippines strongman President Rodrigo Duterte for his high approval ratings. He promised changes to the Republican health care bill, though he has seemed unsure what was in the legislation, even as his advisers whipped votes for it.

And Monday still had nine hours to go.

It was a bewildering day of bizarre interviews.  (Note: Yesterday was the first day of Mental Health Awareness Month)

This morning, on Morning Joe, Mika and Joe admitted that Trump’s behavior is pathological, saying the President is literally unfit to serve. “Beyond bizarre.” “Erratic.” “A confused mental state.”  Interesting assessment, since Mika and Joe have done a lot over the past year to normalize Trump. Also on Morning Joe, Jon Meacham said Trump told him last year that he could’ve done a deal to stop the Civil War.

If it was a White House plan to flummox the press and the country, it is hard to see the purpose.  On one hand, it was more of the same. On the other hand, it was just too much, especially as he embarked on his post-100 presidency.

Let’s sum up yesterday:

1/ Congress reached a deal to keep the government open through September. The plan would add billions for the Pentagon and border security, but it doesn’t allow the money to be spent on building Trump’s wall. There is no money provided for a deportation force and there are no cuts of federal monies to so-called sanctuary cities. Votes in both chambers are expected by the end of the week. (CNN)

2/ North Korea said it will continue its nuclear weapons tests and bolster its nuclear force “to the maximum.” The North called US sanctions and its show of force – sending an aircraft carrier to the Korean peninsula and joint drills with South Korea – aggression and hysteria. (Reuters)

3/ Trump said he would be “honored” to meet with Kim Jong Un if the circumstances were right. “I would be honored to do it,” he said amid heightened tensions over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. (Bloomberg)

  • Trump calls Kim Jong-un a “a pretty smart cookie” for managing to hold on to power after taking over at a young age. (The Guardian)

4/ Trump doesn’t know what’s in his health care bill. The Republican health care plan Trump described on Face the Nation is at odds with his health care goals. He said that people with preexisting conditions will be protected, but the latest amendment says they won’t be. Trump also said deductibles will go down under the Republican plan, but a nonpartisan analysis expects deductibles to go up. (Vox)

  • GOP faces a make-or-break moment on Obamacare repeal. This week may be the last, best chance to get it done in the House. (Politico)

5/ The administration ends Michelle Obama’s girls education program. The “Let Girls Learn” program comes to an end as Melania Trump begins to define her own platform as first lady. (CNN)

6/ The Department of Agriculture is relaxing Obama-era school lunch standards. The new rules suspend the sodium reduction and whole-grain requirements, as well as allow 1% fat chocolate milk back into school cafeterias nationwide because of “palatability issues.” (ABC News)

7/ Trump claims Andrew Jackson was upset about the Civil War and wonders why that the issues “could not have been worked out.” Jackson died 16 years before the war began. Trump suggested that if Jackson had been president “a little later, you wouldn’t have had the Civil War.” (Associated Press)


8/ Trump abruptly ended an interview after being pushed on his claims that Obama ordered surveillance of him. He said his allegation that he was illegally surveilled has “been proven very strongly” and that he is entitled to his own “opinions.” (Politico)

  • Trump’s interview with “Face the Nation.” (CBS News)

9/ Trump invited Duterte to visit him at the White House after their “very friendly conversation.” The authoritarian leader is accused of ordering extrajudicial killings of drug suspects in the Philippines, which has drawn criticism from human rights groups. The State Department and the National Security Council were both caught off guard by the invitation and raised objections internally. (New York Times)

  • Rodrigo Duterte says he may be too busy for a White House visit. (New York Times)

10/ Reince Priebus said the Trump administration has “looked at” changes to libel laws that would curtail press freedoms. Trump has frequently slammed the press for its coverage of him and has suggested changing libel laws. Libel is when defamatory statements about someone are published. But the American press enjoys some protection from lawsuits claiming libel because of the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech rights. (ABC News)

11/ Trump says his rally crowd broke records despite empty seats at his 100-day rally in Pennsylvania on Saturday night. Journalists pointed out rows of empty seats at the expo center. (The Hill)

Just insane.  Most of the focus was on Trump’s comments regarding Andrew Jackson, which he tried to clean up in a tweet saying that Jackson was dead 16 years before the Civil War (see everyone, I knew that!) but he saw it coming and was angry about it.

No, he didn’t see it coming, and he wasn’t angry about it. Trump just made that up.

Also…

Anyway….. Seth Meyers puts it together

This morning, we get two more tweets.  Clearly he was tweeting in response to the show he was watching, but we don’t know what that is:

Uh…. he WANTS a government shutdown?  Interesting, seeing as he blamed Democrats four days ago for almost bringing on a government shutdown. Remember this?

Government shutdowns are bad, Mr. President. Here’s what happened in 2013 when we did that:

  • $2.5 billion in compensation costs for furloughed workers (whose lack of pay for two weeks hampered consumer spending);
  • 120,000 fewer private-sector jobs created in the first half of October;
  • $500 million lost in visitor spending because of closed National Parks ;
  • $11 million in lost National Parks and Smithsonian Institution revenue;
  • Interest accrued on billions of dollars of payments owed to third parties that the government was unable to pay during the shutdown;
  • Resources spent on putting activities in standby or maintaining them in an idle mode;
  • 1.2 million Internal Revenue Service identity verification requests that couldn’t be processed, causing a delay in private-sector lending and other activities;
  • Stalled approvals from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration delayed moving products to market.

Yyyyeah. Of course, as President, he COULD just veto what he doesn’t like. Does he know that yet?

Look, when Trump was a businessman and failed, he simply declared bankruptcy. I think, in Trump’s mind, “shutdown” is the political equivalent of bankruptcy.  I think he saw the morning shows and saw that his Trumpcare was failing (again).  He wants a “shutdown”, a clean slate (in his mind).

9/11 – 15 Years Later

It is kind of cool to have a blog for this long — I can go back and look at past reflections of past events.

I write about my 9/11 experience here.  I had left New York by the time 9/11/2001 happened, but, like everyone else in the country, I experienced that day.  For me, I came to lump it in with 2/26/1993, the date of the first terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.

It is remarkable how things have changed.  I deal everyday with people who were children when 9/11 happened.  The World Trade Center site is a beautiful memorial, museum, and tourist site.  I don’t bemoan that — using that public space as a space of education and commemoration is perfectly fitting.  And it is all in the shadow of the Freedom Tower, representing, if nothing else, that the beat of NYC goes on despite what happened on that terrible day.

50 Years Ago Today

Fifty years ago today, Charles Whitman, a 25-year-old engineering student and former Marine armed with a small arsenal of weapons, killed 13 people and wounded over 30 more during a shooting rampage atop the University of Texas Tower in Austin. The episode casts a long and complicated shadow. It is considered by some to have marked the beginning of the era of mass shootings; for others, the armed civilians who engaged Whitman that day suggest one way to limit the scope of such attacks.

As survivors and mourners gather to mark the anniversary on Monday, a campus-carry law that allows firearms in university buildings in Texas will also go into effect.

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Same Actor – 52 Years Apart

What is odd to me is this: the new ad uses some of the same language of the old one.  Except they decided not to use this: “I mean, when the head of the Ku Klux Klan, when all these weird groups, come out in favor of the candidate of my party, either they’re not Republicans or I’m not.”

A great line that really SHOULD be said again in this year’s version.

Titanic Sinks In Real Time

It’s hard to imagine what it felt like to be on the RMS Titanic after the ship struck an iceberg in the Atlantic Ocean more than a century ago. But a new game aims to put you as close as possible. The game, called “Titanic: Honor and Glory,” follows a fictional character named Owen Robert Morgan,…

The Tubman Freakout

Seriously?

That’s Fox’s Greta Van Susteren saying that Obama is needlessly “dividing the country” by replacing Andrew Jackson on the $20, with Harriet Tubman.

Has this woman lost her mind?  Dividing the country between who and who?

Or is it personal (she does resemble Jackson)?

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Then, Van Susteren had a suggestion as to how the Obama administration could have avoided “dividing the country”:

Give Tubman her own bill. Like a $25 bill. We could use a $25 bill. Put her picture on that and we could all celebrate. That’s the smart and easy thing to do. But no, some people don’t think and would gratuitously stir up conflict in the nation. That is so awful, and yes, dumb.

Right.  Because that worked so well the Susan B Anthony coin.  It flopped, the US Treasury ended up with 520 million surplus coins after halting production. A $25 bill would be even more contrived, and it would end up creating more work in retail stores, banks, and so on in separate handling of the currency from $20s and $50s.  There’s simply no NEED for it.

Van Susteren isn’t alone in this.  Trump has called it political correctness.  Ben Carson thinks Tubman should go on a $2.

But here’s the thing: the all LOVE that she is on our money.  It’s the OTHER people who are offended by Treasury Secretary Lew and Obama.

Anyway, time to learn about Tubman:

Hamilton on the Appointment of Justices to the Supreme Court

[The President] shall have power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to make treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, judges of the Supreme Court, and all other officers of the United States, whose appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by law: but the Congress may by law vest the appointment of such inferior officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the courts of law, or in the heads of departments

The President shall have power to fill up all vacancies that may happen during the recess of the Senate, by granting commissions which shall expire at the end of their next session.

U.S. Constitution, Article II, Section 2 (the “Appointments Clause”)

“Alexander joins forces with James Madison and John Jay to write a series of essays defending the new United States Constitution, entitled The Federalist Papers. The plan was to write a total of twenty-five essays, the work divided evenly among the three men. In the end, they wrote eighty-five essays, in the span of six months. John Jay got sick after writing five. James Madison wrote twenty-nine. Hamilton wrote the other fifty-one!”

Aaron Burr in Hamilton

And among those fifty-one essays, Alexander Hamilton, under the pseudonym “Publius”, wrote Federalist 76 and Federalist 77, dealing with the appointment of (among other things) Justices to the Supreme Court.

So since Hamilton, the musical, is still taking the country by storm, and the appointment of SCOTUS justices is a hot-and-heavy topic, I thought I would check out what our favorite founding father said on the issue, to see if he could enlighten us.

So I read Federalist 76 and 77.  The real meat of Hamilton’s defense of the Appointment Clause of the Constitution lies in Federalist 76.

Original Intent

From The New Yorker:

December 5, 1791
James Madison
House of Representatives

Dear James,

How is it almost 1792?! Quick question on the right to bear arms thing in your “Bill of Rights”—the wording and punctuation are slightly confusing. Did you mean that the right of the people serving in the militia to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, or people in general? I’m assuming the former, but don’t want to make an ass of you and me! (Franklin made that up, but I’m using it everywhere!) Could you please send me a quick note whenever to clarify?

TJ

P.S. To be honest, I’m still meh about “Bill of Rights” as a name.

* * *

December 7, 1791
Thomas Jefferson
Office of the Secretary of State

Dear Tom,

I know, it’s so crazy how fast this year has gone—I just got used to writing 1791 on my deeds of purchase (of slaves)!

As far as the amendment, of course it’s the former. If every private citizen had the right to carry a musket, a thousand people would’ve shot Patrick Henry by now, am I right? Don’t worry about it. Everyone will know what it means.

JM

P.S. You’re not back on “The Ten Amendments” are you? It’s trying way too hard to sound Biblical.

* * *

December 9, 1791
James Madison
House of Representatives

Dear James,

Hahaha re: Patrick Henry. And I agree it should be obvious. It’s just, why not make it so clear that even the biggest Anti-Federalist looney tune can’t misinterpret the meaning? I’d add “while serving in the militia” to line three. Also, not to be a grammar redcoat here, but the use and placement of the comma isn’t helping. Can we change it? It will take two seconds.

I know I’m being annoying!

TJ

P.S. How about “Constitution, Part Two?” (Not a serious pitch, unless you like it!)

* * *

December 11, 1791
Thomas Jefferson
Office of the Secretary of State

Dear Tom,

There is literally zero chance that anyone will misconstrue this, and the great news is that if someone actually does, the Supreme Court will set them straight. I don’t want to change it. It won’t take two seconds, because the addition would push a page and I’d have to do the whole rest of it over again and W. is breathing down my neck about it. Plus, I like the way my signature looks on the version I sent you, and you know I always hate the way it looks on important stuff.

Not trying to be snippy, but you’re worrying about nothing.

JM

* * *

December 13, 1791
James Madison
House of Representatives

Dear James,

I know, I know—I’m the worst. Just hear me out. Imagine it’s some two hundred years from now. Musket makers have made new and more powerful muskets—ones that are capable of firing two or even three shots per minute—and, in an effort to sell more, they claim that every homeowner should have the right to own one, or two, or twenty. They bribe politicians to advance their cause, they stoke public fears of crime and federal tyranny, and they manage to exploit this slightly confusing language and comma placement to claim that we originally intended to give every private citizen the right to own as many muskets (and for that manner, cannons!) as they can get their hands on. And because in this version of the future (just bear with me here) we’ve had such a run of Anti-Federalist Presidents, the Court is packed with men who might agree. Isn’t there the slightest chance that this could happen?

TJ

* * *

December 15, 1791
Thomas Jefferson
Office of the Secretary of State

Dear Tom,

You know I love you, but we seriously need to get this ratified, like, today, or W. will have my ass. There is no way that what you’re talking about could come to pass. It’s too ridiculous. The amendment goes before Congress as written.

Besides, if anyone ever needs to confirm our intention two hundred years from now, they need only consult any decent spiritualist to communicate with our ghosts. If muskets can fire three shots per minute in your future, I’m sure mediums will have become even better at their jobs, too.

JM

35 Years Ago Today: Lennon Killed

An important voice was silenced.  I wrote about this 10 years ago:

I was not then, and am not now, a huge John Lennon fan.  But that was one of those few watershed moments in life where you have to sit back and wonder — aloud — “why”?  All he did was talk and sing about peace and love.  Of course, he was in a long line of peaceloving people who got shot — MLK, Bobby, etc.  The fact that it turned out to be a deranged fan, rather than someone with a political vendetta, made the senseless assassination all the more senseless.

Read the whole thing.

60 Years Ago Today

A black lady sat on a bus.

No, not Claudette Colvin.  The one who came nine months later, on December 1, 1955.  Yeah, Rosa Parks.  The lighter-skinned one.

That whole thing was planned, you know.  Rosa Parks (who died in 1995) wasn’t a nobody; she was an activist. She knew the bus driver too.  Knew him to be a real jerk.  It was supposed to spark a one-day boycott, but it kind of snowballed.  In a good way.

That was sixty years ago.  The struggle isn’t over.

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Bush 41 On Cheney and Rumsfeld

Dad was a far better president than sons.  Of course, Dad could never be elected in today’s uber-conservative GOP.  But I always had a soft spot for the elder Bush.  And here’s why.  According to the New York Times:

…the elder Bush told biographer Jon Meacham that Cheney “had his own empire there and marched to his own drummer.” Calling the former vice president “iron-ass,” the elder Bush said he “just became very hard-line and very different from the Dick Cheney I knew and worked with.”

The former president also called Rumsfeld “an arrogant fellow” and suggested that his lack of empathy made him a poor public servant in George W. Bush’s White House.

“I think he served the president badly,” Bush said. “I don’t like what he did, and I think it hurt the president having his iron-ass view of everything.”

“There’s a lack of humility, a lack of seeing what the other guy thinks. He’s more kick ass and take names, take numbers. I think he paid a price for that,” he said.

The former president’s comments, detailed in Meacham’s book “Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush,” are sure to be seen through the prism of the presidential run of his other son, Jeb. The former Florida governor is struggling to regain political momentum, in part after questions about the dynastic nature of his 2016 run.

In the book, George H.W. Bush doesn’t shy away from criticism of George W. Bush, suggesting that some of his son’s rhetoric – like describing North Korea, Iran and Iraq as an “axis of evil” – was ill-advised.

“I do worry about some of the rhetoric that was out there — some of it his, maybe, and some of it the people around him,” he said of George W. Bush.

That last part doesn’t sound right.  I don’t think Bush is criticizing his son by saying his son’s actions were ill-advised.  I think he was (again) criticizing the advisers, i.e., Cheney and Rumsfeld.

UPDATE – Rumsfeld fired back in a statement to NBC News: “Bush 41 is getting up in years and misjudges Bush 43, who I found made his own decisions.”

Yeah.  I don’t think that was the point.  He made his own decisions, based on the bad advice (and facts) he was given.

I won’t say anything about Rumsfeld, age 83, commenting on the elder Bush, age 91, getting up in years.

40 Years Ago Today — Game 6: Red Sox v Reds

It’s arguably the best major league baseball game ever played, and it was played 40 years ago today.  The Reds-Red Sox rivalry revived national interest in the national pasttime.  And when you look back at all the hall-of-famers playing — Johnny Bench, Pete Rose (okay, not a hall of famer, but….), Carl Yastremski, Fred Lynn,. Luis Tiante, Carlton Fisk….

Boston’s Carlton Fisk waves the ball fair, then rounds the bases with a 12th-inning homer as the Red Sox beat the Reds, 7-6, to even the Series at three games apiece. Before Fisk homered, Boston’s Bernie Carbo tied the game with a three-run, pinch-hit home run in the eighth inning, the Reds’ George Foster, in left field, threw out the potential winning run at the plate in the bottom of the ninth, and Boston right fielder Dwight Evans robbed Joe Morgan of a home run in the top of the 11th and then doubled off Ken Griffey, who was on first base. All of which is why many consider this the greatest World Series game ever.

Have three and a half hours?  Watch it:

Well Played USA Today

Today is “Back To The Future” Day.  In the movie Back To The Future II, Marty McFly gets in the DeLorean time machine and travels from 1985 to October 21, 2015.  At one point, he sees a copy of the “future” USA Today (that’s how he learns the date).  So what does the actual USA Today look like for today?  The newspaper is marking the date that graced the front page of its appearance in Back to the Future II more than 25 years ago with a wrap-around supplement that features an elaborate recreation of the edition featured in the iconic movie.

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And by the way….

The Problem With Trump-Bush-9/11 And Clinton-Benghazi-9/11

I know I’m not the first to bring it up, but there is a huge disconnect going on right now when you tie together to seemingly separate stories.

Trump is saying that since 9/11 happened during Bush 43’s watch, Bush 43 bears some culpability.  This makes Jeb Bush act all defensive, because (he seems to argue) the President cannot micromanage every aspect of national security so he cannot be held responsible for the actions of terrorists.

Fair enough, I suppose, although it begs the question: if that rationale is true, doesn’t it apply to Obama and Hillary Clinton with respect to the attacks on the embassy in Benghazi on the night of 9/11 (2012)?

This point was driven home when Jake Tapper brought up Benghazi in this context:

TAPPER: Obviously Al Qaeda was responsible for the terrorist attack of 9/11, but how do you respond to critics who ask, if your brother and his administration bear no responsibility at all, how do you then make the jump that President Obama and Secretary Clinton are responsible for what happened at Benghazi?

JEB BUSH: Well I — the question on Benghazi which, is hopefully we’ll now finally get the truth to, is was the place secure? They had a responsibility, the Department of State, to have proper security. There were calls for security, it looks like they didn’t get it. And how was the response in the aftermath of the attack, was there a chance that these four American lives could have been saved? That’s what the investigation is about, it’s not a political issue. It’s not about the broad policy issue, is were we doing the job of protecting our embassies and our consulates and during the period, those hours after the attack started, could they have been saved?

TAPPER: Well that’s, that’s kind of proving the point of the critics I was just asking about, because you don’t want to have your brother bear responsibility for 9/11 and I understand that argument and Al Qaeda’s responsible, but why are the terrorists not the ones who are responsible for these attacks in Libya?

BUSH: They are, of course they are but — of course they are, but if the ambassador was asking for additional security and didn’t get it, that’s a proper point and if it’s proven that the security was adequate compared to other embassies, fine, we’ll move on.

Now, had the conversation continued, I suppose Tapper could have reminded Jeb that there was a call to beef up security prior to the 9/11 attacks as well.  We all remember this, yes — which went to then Secretary of State Rice as well as Bush 43?

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So how is this different from a communication or email to Clinton saying that embassy security in Benghazi needs improvement?

Jeb went on to defend his brother by saying “it’s what you do after that matters”.  I suppose.  But that highlights another difference: both Clinton and Obama have acknowledged that what happened in Benghazi was indeed a failure on their part (albeit not a direct one).  Bush, Cheney and Rice have yet to do the same re: 9/11.  Just sayin’.

A Century Ago

For no reason other than my amusement, here are the headlines from 100 years ago….

The Red Sox won the World Series (they would win again in 1916 and 1918, but that was it for the 20th century)… and WWI was heating up.

Fox News Moron Doubles Down With Dr. Carson: Stupid Jews Could Have Taken The Nazis

Yes, the European Jews were just a bunch of pants-wetting pansies back in the thirties:

Dr. Ben Carson recently asserted that if guns had not been confiscated from Jews then Hitler would have had more trouble orchestrating the Holocaust.

Jonathan Greenblatt, National Director of the Anti-Defamation Leauge, quickly objected, stating that there were few firearms available to Jews in Germany in 1938 and that surrendering them did not measurably contribute to the totalitarian power of the Nazi German state.

Ben Carson is right, and Jonathan Greenblatt is wrong.

For the record, I have hosted a fundraiser for Dr. Carson, but I was also born a Jew and have studied the Holocaust. And I have spoken before the Anti-Defamation League in the past.

The wisest answer to a government that insists its citizens disarm is, “Over my dead body.”

What Greenblatt fails to account for is that the surrendering of firearms by Jews when required to by Nazi authorities was not merely the surrender of guns and ammunition. Those material items would not have been sufficient to defend against the Third Reich’s military.

The mindset that Jews surrendered with their guns is far more important than the hardware they turned over: They surrendered the demonstrated intention, at all costs, to resist being deprived of liberty. If Jews in Germany had more actively resisted the Nazi party or the Nazi regime and had diagnosed it as a malignant and deadly cancer from the start, there would, indeed, have been a chance for the people of that country and the world to be moved to action by their bold refusal to be enslaved.

Yes, that would have required immeasurable courage. Yes, that would have required unspeakable losses. But is that not the lesson of the Old Testament? Does not Abraham bind his son Issac to an altar, willing to sacrifice his son’s life to God’s Word—to the truth? Must not we all be ready to sacrifice ourselves to stand in the way of evil?

Granted, I was not there. Granted, hindsight is 20/20. But it turns out it was a bad idea for any Jew to have turned over a gun. It was a bad idea for any Jew to have boarded a train. It was a bad idea for any Jew to have passed through a gate into a camp. It was a bad idea for any Jew to do any work at any such camp. It was a bad idea for any Jew to not attempt to crush the skull or scratch out the eyes of any Nazi who turned his back for one moment. And every bullet that would have been fired into a Nazi coming to a doorway to confiscate a gun from a Jew would have been a sacred bullet.

To me, Jonathan Greenblatt seems to have forgotten those iconic words, “Never Again.” Thank God that men like Ben Carson remind us of them.

The wisest answer to a government that insists its citizens disarm is, “Over my dead body.” It would seem to be the end of any discussion and the beginning of active, heroic resistance. Because it is very hard to imagine that disempowering citizens by having them render themselves defenseless can lead to anything good. It is very likely a sign that the culture has fallen ill and that an epidemic of enslavement of one kind or another is on the horizon.

No, Dr. Ablow, you weren’t there, and yes, Dr. Ablow, hindsight is 20/20.  And let’s remember that thousands of Jews resisted in Germany, in the Warsaw ghetto, in France, and everywhere else.  And while brave and heroic, it simply resulted in expediting their deaths, and the death of others.  Hell, Kristellnacht happened ostensibly because an armed Jew shot and killed a German officer.  As a result, 30,000 were arrested and incarcerated in Nazi concentration camps.  Jewish homes, hospitals, and schools were ransacked, as the attackers demolished buildings with sledgehammers, Over 1,000 synagogues were burned (95 in Vienna alone) and over 7,000 Jewish businesses destroyed or damaged.  Over 100 Jews were killed.  From one Jew with one gun.  I don’t care how many handguns you and your friends have — you simply cannot rise against a superpower that has machine guns, aircraft, and — you know — tanks.

Truthfully, we do not have to wonder what would happen if Germany’s Jews had guns and numbers and a tradition of organized violence. Nazis hardly started with the Jews. First they had to deal with the German Communist Party.

Where Jews were for the most part a random selection of middle class Germany, the Communists were a different story. German Communists had an organization and violent ruthlessness that rivaled Hitler’s gang during the Weimar era. In fact the entirely legitimate threat of a revolution in Germany (they tried a few times and nearly pulled it off once) goes a long way to explaining why German nationalists and business leaders would play ball with an obvious nut like Hitler in the first place.

So yes, the Communists were spoiling for a chance to make the brownshirts come take their guns from their cold, dead hands. When the brownshirts got ahold of state power, first in Bavaria and then everywhere, they did exactly that. And then there were no more Communists in Germany.

So much for arming yourselves against the Nazis.

But this is the conservative myth, and wet dream.  They want to rise against their own government some day — at least, that is the fantasy.  So if you have that mindset, you have to blame the Jews for their own demise.

9/11 Plus 14

I’m a bit like Ed Gilgore, who writes today…:

Most years I don’t get too involved in 9/11 reminiscences. It’s not like any American old enough to be aware of what was happening that day is going to forget it. Some ideologues want us all to get hysterical each 9/11, but they are the ones whose memories are impaired, forgetting the horrendous mistakes made in the name of retaliation for the attacks.

But nevertheless, it’s almost insane NOT to say something.

As I often do on this day, I watch (and/or listen to) MSNBC, which shows “At It Happened” — basically what happened on NBC on Tuesday September 11, 2001, starting with the Today show.  The first 3 hours are, as you can well imagine, very riveting.  What always strikes me is the vast amount of confusion and misinformation.  Once it was clear that we were under attack, we just had no idea how bad it was going to get.  So you get reports (which turn out to be false) about a car bomb at the Capitol, and a bomb at Stuyvesant Elementary School in Manhattan.  And you can just here the fear in the voices of the broadcasters, even Tom Brokaw at times.

My recollection

Here’s something you didn’t know about 9/11: it made the whales happier for a few days.

Here’s something you might not have known: A young woman, two weeks out of Air Force flight school, had the unpleasant task of being a kamikaze pilot:

Late in the morning of the Tuesday that changed everything, Lt. Heather “Lucky” Penney was on a runway at Andrews Air Force Base and ready to fly. She had her hand on the throttle of an F-16 and she had her orders: Bring down United Airlines Flight 93. The day’s fourth hijacked airliner seemed to be hurtling toward Washington. Penney, one of the first two combat pilots in the air that morning, was told to stop it.

The one thing she didn’t have as she roared into the crystalline sky was live ammunition. Or missiles. Or anything at all to throw at a hostile aircraft.

Except her own plane. So that was the plan.

Because the surprise attacks were unfolding, in that innocent age, faster than they could arm war planes, Penney and her commanding officer went up to fly their jets straight into a Boeing 757.

“We wouldn’t be shooting it down. We’d be ramming the aircraft,” Penney recalls of her charge that day. “I would essentially be a kamikaze pilot.”

Here’s some kids at the NY Stock Exchange getting ready to ring the opening bell.  They were born on 9/11/01.  I am old.

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UPDATE:  One thing is for sure…. we’re still a little antsy this day, even 14 years later:

[LATE UPDATE:  Man stapped woman at Union Station McDonald’s and a security guard shot the man – a domestic dispute.  WH locked down probably as precaution.  Like I say: jittery]

UPDATE:  Former Bush WH secretary is posting a series of as-it-happened 14 years ago Tweets from his perspective with Bush.  Interesting stuff.  Some examples:

Queen For A Day (and 23,225 more)

At 17:30 BST today, Queen Elizabeth, age 89, has reigned for 23,226 days, 16 hours and approximately 30 minutes – surpassing the reign of her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria.  She becomes Britain’s longest-reigning monarch.

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Remains Of The Day

Cool new archaeological discoveries at Jamestown announced today:

jamestownArchaeologists have uncovered human remains of four of the earliest leaders of the English colony that would become America, buried for more than 400 years near the altar of what was America’s first Protestant church in Jamestown, Virginia.

The four burial sites were uncovered in the floor of what’s left of Jamestown’s historic Anglican church from 1608, a team of scientists and historians announced Tuesday. The site is the same church where Pocahontas famously married Englishman John Rolfe, leading to peace between the Powhatan Indians and colonists at the first permanent English settlement in America.

Beyond the human remains, archaeologists also found artifacts buried with the colonial leaders — including a mysterious Catholic container for holy relics found in the Protestant church.

The Jamestown Rediscovery archaeology team revealed its discovery at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. The museum is helping to study and identify those buried in the church. The burials were first uncovered in November 2013, but the scientific team wanted to trace and identify its findings with some certainty before announcing the discovery.

Archaeologists have been studying the site since 1994 when the original James Fort — long thought to be lost and submerged in the James River — was rediscovered.

The team identified the remains of the Rev. Robert Hunt, Jamestown’s first Anglican minister who was known as a peacemaker between rival colonial leaders; Capt. Gabriel Archer, a nemesis of one-time colony leader John Smith; Sir Ferdinando Wainman, likely the first knight buried in America; and Capt. William West, who died in a fight with the Powhatan Indians. The three other men likely died after brief illnesses. They were buried between 1608 and 1610.

Read the whole thing.

Supreme Court Rules 5-4 To End The Sanctity Of Marriage

46 years ago this weekend, police in New York City raided a gay bar called the Stonewall Inn.

Obviously, this is the end (we hope) of a remarkable civil rights story (despite my snarky headline).  Here’s the opinion.

Reactions are about what you expect.  I will update as the day goes on.  But the important thing is that about 3 million gay people just won the right to become married.

The dissents are interesting.  They all take pains to say, “Hey, I’m happy about the result!  Seriously!  Go celebrate!”, just before launching rather odd objections.

The main dissent is by Chief Justice Roberts, but all of them take great pains to say, essentially, “Hey *I* don’t have a problem with gay marriage”.  The thing they object to, universally in dissent, is that the court should not decide.  They would rather have this worked out in a democratic fashion.

I think Kennedy, writing for the majority, dispenses with this.  First of all, it has come up through the courts.  There is a split in the circuits.  It IS a legal question.  And the Constitution supersedes democracy.  End of story.  If I had a bone to pick about the majority opinion, it is this: Once again, Justice Kennedy did not spell out what constitutional test he was applying to a claim of gay equality.  It simply discussed a series of court precedents, and his own recitation of notions of liberty, without saying what burden those challenging the bans had to satisfy before winning the right to equality.

The dissents also mischaracterize the majority opinion, saying things like “the majority views bans on gay marriage as unwise“.  No, the majority views same-sex marriage bans as UNCONSTITUTIONAL and a violation of the 14th Amendment.  The majority is not substituting its preference for that of legislatures — they are doing what upper level courts often do, i.e., decide whether something is constitutional or not.

Ironically, while the dissent says the majority is acting extra-judicially, many of the dissents arguments have little to do with the actual law (instead, they argue policy, democracy, etc.)

Breakdowns and reactions below the fold

The Watershed

Josh Marshall channels what I have been thinking these past few days:

More Confederate Flag Fallout

I want to preface this flag round-up by saying this: although I welcome the removal of the confederate flag from the public (and commercial) square, and while doing so may garner some sniping from the likes of Bill Kristol and Haley Barbour, we must remember that taking down the flag is easy. No matter how good it will be to see less of that symbol of treason and slavery tainting the land, it is just a symbol, a relic of the “Lost Cause”.  It is a end product and not the genesis of a deep-seated racism that still plagues our nation a century and a half after the Civil War. If disappearing from public view this flag—which was dragged from obscurity by advocates of Jim Crow in the 1950s—is really to mean anything significant, it must mark the start, not the end of reforms needed to crush racism.

And now the round-up….

From the vile:

(1)  Conservative author Ann Coulter

She claimed yesterday that South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) has a poor grasp on American history as “an immigrant,” even though Haley was born in the U.S.

During an appearance with Kennedy on Fox Business Network, Coulter said that the deadly shooting at a history black church in Charleston “had nothing to do with the Confederate flag”, despite the fact that the murderer posed with the flag in many published pictures and identified it.

And she lamented that that Americans do not understand the history of the Confederate flag.  she then said that many media outlets, such as MSNBC, got the flag’s history in South Carolina wrong, noting that the flag first went up at the capitol in 1962 under a Democratic governor and legislature to mark the 100th anniversary of the Civil War.  She was wrong — it first went up in 1961, and although it was in part to mark the 100th anniversary, it also was in response to the growing civil rights movement.

And there  is a huge difference between the Democrats of the south in the early 1960s and the Democrats now.  The Dixiecrats all became Republican, and she knows it.

Coulter then took a shot at South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R), who on Monday called for the removal of the Confederate flag from the state capitol grounds.

“I’m appalled by –– though, I really like to like Nikki Haley since she is a Republican. On the other hand, she is an immigrant and does not understand America’s history,” Coulter said.

“You think immigrants can’t understand the history?” Kennedy asked.

“Well, she doesn’t!” Coulter replied.

Nikki Haley was born in Bamberg, S.C.  Her parents were Indian immigrants.

(2)  South Carolina Republican State Representative William Chumley

He went on CNN and blamed the victims:

State Rep. William Chumley: These people sit in there, waited their turn to be shot… that’s sad. But somebody in there with the means of self defense could have stopped this. And we’d have had less funerals than we’re having.

CNN Interviewer Drew Griffin: You’re turning this into a gun debate? If those nine families asked you to take down that flag, would you do it?

Chumley: You said “guns,” why didn’t somebody, why didn’t somebody just do something? I mean, uh, you’ve got one skinny person shootin’ a gun, you know I mean, we need to take, and do what we can…

CNN: I want to make sure I understand what you’re telling me… are you asking that these people should have tackled him, these women should have fought him… that…

Chumley: I don’t know what, I don’t know what the answer was. But I know it’s really horrible for nine people to be shot and I understand that he reloaded his gun during the process. [smiles] That’s, that’s upsetting, very upsetting.

CNN: Those nine families, and every black person in South Carolina, and all of the people, the white people who are against that flag believe it shouldn’t be on the state grounds, you are saying it should stay because your constituents want it to?

Chumley: It stays there until the people of South Carolina say it should come down. Thank you so much. Appreciate it.

UPDATE:  He recants.

(3)  Even some Democrats get it wrong:

(4)  Bad imagery has the casket of Rev. Clementa Pinckney’s passes the Confederate flag in South Carolina:

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To the positive:

(1)  Two-thirds of the SC Senate agree will voote for flag removal:

scsenate

The SC House might be close.

(2)  Toys changing too:

The debate over the Confederate flag has extended into the world of pop culture.

Fans of the 1980s’ TV series “The Dukes of Hazzard” know that the flag was painted on the roof of The General Lee, the orange Dodge Charger owned by John Schneider’s Bo and Tom Wopat’s Luke. Warner Bros. will no longer sanction the manufacturing of “Dukes of Hazzard” merchandise featuring the flag.

“Warner Bros. Consumer Products has one licensee producing die-cast replicas and vehicle model kits featuring the General Lee with the confederate flag on its roof — as it was seen in the TV series,” a spokesman for the company told Vulture. “We have elected to cease the licensing of these product categories.”

(3)  State Flags

In Alabama:

On the order of Gov. Robert Bentley, the Confederate battle flag which stands at the foot of the confederate memorial on the state Capitol grounds was taken down this morning.

Meanwhile, another prominent voice was added to the call to change Mississippi’s state flag. Republican Sen. Roger Wicker said in a statement that:

After reflection and prayer, I now believe our state flag should be put in a museum and replaced by one that is more unifying to all Mississippians. As the descendant of several brave Americans who fought for the Confederacy, I have not viewed Mississippi’s current state flag as offensive. However, it is clearer and clearer to me that many of my fellow citizens feel differently and that our state flag increasingly portrays a false impression of our state to others.

For The Last Time, The Civil War Was About Slavery

It gets exhausting sometimes having to explain to some people that the US Civil War was not about “states’ rights” or some other nonsense.  That’s all 19th and 20th century revisionism, and it is not true.

The Civil War was about slavery, and the reason we KNOW this is because there is an historical record.  I will share some of it with you now, for posterity, under the fold.  The emphases are mine. Ready?

Fun Fact About The South Carolina Confederate Flag

The South Carolina Capitol did not display the Confederate Flag until 1961. In fact, it was raised on April 11, 1961 — the one hundredth anniversary of Fort Sumter.  Here’s other news that happened that week:

  • Sen. Marrion Gressette, the head of the State Segregation Committee, created in 1951 to recommend measures to maintain segregation, was supporting a resolution condemning former North Carolina Gov. Frank Graham, who had spoken at Winthrop College defending the civil rights movement and calling for integration.
  • Thurmond was fighting in Congress to keep federal funding for segregated schools. Political sentiment against school integration was so strong that state politicians vowed to stop all funding to public schools rather than integrate.
  • The Freedom Ride with integrated bus loads of civil rights workers was on the road, and there were reports of violence along the route.
  • The major story of the week was Kennedy’s executive order to end segregation in work places that do business with the government. The forced integration of South Carolina’s mills outraged politicians and editorial writers.

The hoisting of the confederate flag in South Carolina was a very “in your face” defiance of the civil rights movement.

UPDATE: Quote from the creator of the flag….

Celebrating Nellie Bly

Google is celebrating Nellie Bly today with a little cartoony thing.  Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s has written a song in her honor, which is featured in the lovely Google Doodle created by artist Katy Wu.

Why Nellie Bly?  Today is here 151st birthday.

On the chance that you don’t know who Nellie Bly was, she was a pioneering female journalist many decades before women could even vote.   She was pretty bae.

In 1885, Bly wrote a furious letter to a Pittsburgh newspaper denouncing a column entitled, “What Girls Are Good For” that described the working woman as a “monstrosity” and said that women were best suited for domestic chores.  Impressed by Bly’s letter, Pittsburgh Dispatch editor George Madden hired her as a full-time reporter under the pen name Nellie Bly.  She was a trailblazing journalist, an unwavering champion for women and the working poor, and a brilliant muckracker. One of her most famous assignments was for the the New York Worldwhere she posed as a mentally ill woman and exposed the horrors of a women’s asylum on Blackwell’s Island, as depicted here by Laura Dern in Drunk History:

Bly also achieved worldwide fame with her 1889 trip around the world, which was inspired by Jules Verne’s novel “Around the World in Eighty Days.” She completed her journey in seventy-two days, becoming the first woman to beat a fictional world record for global circumnavigation.  Okay, maybe that isn’t her biggest accomplishment.

40 Years Ago: The End Of The Vietnam War

I don’t have much to say about this, even though it happened in my lifetime.  It is hard to discuss, not only because it did not entire my psyche (I was only 12 when South Vietnam declared unconditional surrender), but also because the subject is so big.  What to talk about — what angle?  The fact that America lost a war?  The lessons learned?  The lessons NOT learned (that we were doomed to repeat in Iraq, like fighting a war with unclear objectives and no exit strategy)?  The MIA issue?  The first televised war?  The fall of communism?  The Vietnamese children of US soldiers?  The peace movement at home and the campus riots and killings?  The poor (and continued poor) treatment of returning soldiers?  So many things….

Vietnam was ugly and it brought out the ugly in this nation.  It was not a “good war” like the previous world wars, and never again would there be a “good war”.  “What Vietnam means” still divides this country.  I don’t think we have completely processed it yet.  I think we all just moved on.

40 Years Ago: The Fall Of Saigon

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Hubert Vanes:

I was fortunate enough to take a photograph that has become perhaps the most recognizable image of the fall of Saigon – you know it, the one that is always described as showing an American helicopter evacuating people from the roof of the United States Embassy. Well, like so many things about the Vietnam War, it’s not exactly what it seems. In fact, the photo is not of the embassy at all; the helicopter was actually on the roof of an apartment building in downtown Saigon where senior Central Intelligence Agency employees were housed.

It was Tuesday, April 29, 1975. Rumors about the final evacuation of Saigon had been rife for weeks, with thousands of people – American civilians, Vietnamese citizens and third-country nationals – being loaded on transport planes at Tan Son Nhut air base, to be flown to United States bases on Guam, Okinawa and elsewhere. Everybody knew that the city was surrounded by the North Vietnamese, and that it was only a matter of time before they would take it. Around 11 a.m. the call came from Brian Ellis, the bureau chief of CBS News, who was in charge of coordinating the evacuation of the foreign press corps. It was on!

Twenty Years Ago Today

Carried out by Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, the Oklahoma City bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building killed 168 people and injured more than 680 others. The blast destroyed or damaged 324 buildings within a 16-block radius, destroyed or burned 86 cars, and shattered glass in 258 nearby buildings, causing at least an estimated $652 million worth of damage. The bombers were tried and convicted in 1997. McVeigh was executed by lethal injection on June 11, 2001, and Nichols was sentenced to life in prison.

 

150 Years Ago Today

150 years ago today, in the play “Our American Cousin”, the actor Henry Hawks uttered the line, “Well, I guess I know enough to turn you inside out, old gal, you sockdologizing old man-trap!” It was the biggest laugh line of the show.

“Sockdologize” was a slang term which became very popular in the United States during the 1850’s and 1860’s. It means a forceful or decisive blow, a finisher, something that ends, or settles a matter and leaves nothing else to follow, a knockdown blow, a decisive overwhelming finish, reply argument, conclusive remark which leaves no possible response.

Which is ironic, because after that line was uttered, Abraham Lincoln, sitting in the loge, was shot.

Why Don’t We Celebrate Civil War Holidays?

The Civil War ended 150 years ago today.  Why do most people not know this?  Jay Elias writes why:

3245248_origThe battles surrounding the Civil War are still with us. Right now, there is an active campaign in this country to persuade Americans that the opposition to so-called Religious Freedom Acts in Indiana and Arkansas are a new fight, the latest campaign in an ever-expanding constellation of ‘gay rights’ that is attacking “traditional America” – including the First Amendment. Some, like Ross Douthat of the New York Times, want to portray the insistence on this principle is an example of how the center on these issues has changed a lot so quickly that “[p]ositions taken by, say, the president of the United States and most Democratic politicians a few short years ago are now deemed the purest atavism, [and] the definition of bigotry gets more and more elastic.” (Douthat is also, by the way, still very sorry for speaking at a fundraiser last year for the Alliance Defending Freedom, one of America’s most extreme anti-LGBT groups.)

What these campaigners don’t want known is that this is actually one of the oldest civil rights battles in America. The Civil Rights Act of 1875 prohibited discrimination in access to inns, public conveyances, and places of amusement such as theaters – from the end of Reconstruction it was well understood that discrimination by providers of services to the general public was a key element to the denial of equality by the ruling majority against the unfavored minority. This principle was reaffirmed both in state laws such as the Unruh Civil Rights Act of 1959 in California, which was the model for similar laws in other states; in federal laws such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964; and by the Supreme Court, in decisions likeHeart of Atlanta Motel Inc. v. United States and Katzenbach v. McClung. What today’s activists for civil rights are fighting for is in fact the same things that civil rights activists have been fighting for over the last 140 years – that all Americans should have the right to purchase the services offered to other Americans in the free market.

Those who would stand athwart history demanding that it stop today wish and hope that their audience is ignorant of history. They believe that they can hurl accusations of appeasement at supporters of a negotiated agreement with Iran, confident that memories of Neville Chamberlain, the Munich Agreement, and the world of 1938 are sufficiently distant that they will get away with it. They believe they can claim that the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Walter Scott and so many others are isolated, unrelated incidents which are being made into a big deal by a rapacious media and race-baiting outsiders, confident that we will have forgotten what Ida B. Wells wrote about demonstrative lynching as a form of social control in 1892.

They think that when the bells ring across America tomorrow, many Americans will not know why.

Read the whole thing.

UPDATE:  This is from the National Park Services’ website about Appomattox Courthouse:

On Palm Sunday (April 9), 1865, Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Court House, Virginia signaled the end of the Southern States attempt to create a separate nation. It set the stage for the emergence of an expanded and more powerful Federal government. In a sense the struggle over how much power the central government would hold had finally been settled.

Odd way to sum up the Civil War.

Slavery?  Hello?

King Richard III Buried

Richard III's coffin processes on a gun carriage through Leicester, central EnglandEngland’s slain King Richard III, exhumed from an undignified grave under a car park, was finally buried with honor today, 530 years after his death on the battlefield.

In a ceremony filled with pageantry and poignancy, a coffin containing his bones were lowered into the ground at Leicester Cathedral in central England as thousands of well-wishers gathered outside.

“We return the bones of your servant Richard to the grave,” Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, the spiritual leader of the Church of England, said in a prayer.

Many of those outside the cathedral, which was draped in Richard’s personal standard, were clutching white roses, the symbol of the former king’s House of York dynasty.

“I feel he was badly treated at the time of his death and all through history,” said May Doherty, a 62-year-old pensioner from Coleraine in Northern Ireland who was dressed in full medieval costume.

“We believe he was innocent and this is the burial he deserved. This is a once in a lifetime occasion. It’s brilliant to be here and be part of history.”

The last English king to die in battle, Richard will now lie in a new tomb inside the cathedral, across the street from where his remains were located in 2012.

After the coffin was lowered into the grave by six soldiers in uniform, Oscar-nominated actor Benedict Cumberbatch read a specially-commissioned work by the Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy.

Cumberbatch, who is due to play Richard in an upcoming BBC television series, is also the king’s third cousin 16 times removed.

Identified by his DNA, radiocarbon dating and his distinctive curved spine, the discovery of Richard’s skeleton has triggered a revival of interest in his reign.

The last of the Plantagenet dynasty, Richard ruled from 1483 until his death at the Battle of Bosworth near Leicester in 1485.

It was the last major conflict in the Wars of the Roses and changed the course of English history.

Richard’s defeat saw the crown pass from the Plantagenets to the Tudors, with his victorious opponent ending the blood-soaked day as king Henry VII.

Richard was hastily buried with minimal ceremony in Greyfriars monastery, which was dissolved by Henry VIII in 1538.

His exhumation has encouraged scholars to look again at his record of social reform, rather than rely on William Shakespeare’s Tudor-era portrayal of him as a scheming murderer.

Richard’s closest living relatives, all direct female line descendants of his eldest sister Anne of York, were at the service.


Story of The Day

A salute to this guy

An 89-year-old WW2 veteran who was banned by his nursing home from going to France for the D-Day commemorations sneaked out and went anyway.

The pensioner left the Hove home at 10:30 BST on Thursday and was reported missing in the evening, police said.

The nursing home received a call from a younger veteran later on saying he had met the un-named veteran on a coach.

The two were on their way to France and said they were safe and well in a hotel in Ouistreham, Sussex Police said.

Hundreds of veterans have been marking the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings in France, with events on the beaches of Normandy.

Rewriting The Civil War

Heritage Foundation Leader Jim DeMint:

DeMint: This progressive, the whole idea of being progressive is to progress away from those ideas that made this country great. What we’re trying to conserve as conservative are those things that work. They work today, they work for young people, they work for minorities and we can change this country and change its course very quickly if we just remember what works.

Newcombe: What if somebody, let’s say you’re talking with a liberal person and they were to turn around and say, ‘that Founding Fathers thing worked out really well, look at that Civil War we had eighty years later.’

DeMint: Well the reason that the slaves were eventually freed was the Constitution, it was like the conscience of the American people. Unfortunately there were some court decisions like Dred Scott and others that defined some people as property, but the Constitution kept calling us back to ‘all men are created equal and we have inalienable rights’ in the minds of God. But a lot of the move to free the slaves came from the people, it did not come from the federal government. It came from a growing movement among the people, particularly people of faith, that this was wrong. People like Wilberforce who persisted for years because of his faith and because of his love for people. So no liberal is going to win a debate that big government freed the slaves. In fact, it was Abraham Lincoln, the very first Republican, who took this on as a cause and a lot of it was based on a love in his heart that comes from God.

(Emphasis mine)

No, no, no!  A thousand times no.  You just can't make up shit like that as historical fact, and pollute the airwaves like that.

Of COURSE big government freed the slaves, you mouthbreathing moron!  Linclon's Emancipation Proclamation was nice, but it did not free a single slave.  Freedom from slavery came from the Thirteenth Amendment and in the form of a GIGANTIC FUCKING ARMY bringing the Southern states to its knees.  You can't get a bigger federal government than that.

Also, not for nothing, but "all men created equal" was in the Declaration of Independence, not the Constitution.  And if you don't know that, that's fine.  But you shouldn't opine on stuff you know nothing about.

Head Explode

Christian conservatives are complaining about the new Russell Crowe action movie "Noah" because it does not accurately depict the real-life flood as written in the Bible.

Oy.

By the way, has anyone answered the question as to where all the flood waters went?  I mean, the whole planet was covered in water — higher than the highest mountain.  Where did all that water go?

Thinking Of Pete

A piece of Pete Seeger's congressional testimony before the House Unamerican Activities Committee in 1955:

MR. TAVENNER: The Committee has information obtained in part from the Daily Worker indicating that, over a period of time, especially since December of 1945, you took part in numerous entertainment features. I have before me a photostatic copy of the June 20, 1947, issue of the Daily Worker. In a column entitled "What's On" appears this advertisement: "Tonight-Bronx, hear Peter Seeger and his guitar, at Allerton Section housewarming." May I ask you whether or not the Allerton Section was a section of the Communist Party?

MR. SEEGER: Sir, I refuse to answer that question whether it was a quote from the New York Times or the Vegetarian Journal.

MR. TAVENNER: I don't believe there is any more authoritative document in regard to the Communist Party than its official organ, the Daily Worker.

MR. SCHERER: He hasn't answered the question, and he merely said he wouldn't answer whether the article appeared in the New York Times or some other magazine. I ask you to direct the witness to answer the question.

CHAIRMAN WALTER: I direct you to answer.

MR. SEEGER: Sir, the whole line of questioning-

CHAIRMAN WALTER: You have only been asked one question, so far.

MR. SEEGER: I am not going to answer any questions as to my association, my philosophical or religious beliefs or my political beliefs, or how I voted in any election, or any of these private affairs. I think these are very improper questions for any American to be asked, especially under such compulsion as this. I would be very glad to tell you my life if you want to hear of it.

MR. TAVENNER: Has the witness declined to answer this specific question?

CHAIRMAN WALTER: He said that he is not going to answer any questions, any names or things.

MR. SCHERER: He was directed to answer the question.

MR. TAVENNER: I have before me a photostatic copy of the April 30, 1948, issue of the Daily Worker which carries under the same title of "What's On," an advertisement of a "May Day Rally: For Peace, Security and Democracy." The advertisement states: "Are you in a fighting mood? Then attend the May Day rally." Expert speakers are stated to be slated for the program, and then follows a statement, "Entertainment by Pete Seeger." At the bottom appears this: "Auspices Essex County Communist Party," and at the top, "Tonight, Newark, N.J." Did you lend your talent to the Essex County Communist Party on the occasion indicated by this article from the Daily Worker?

MR. SEEGER: Mr. Walter, I believe I have already answered this question, and the same answer.

CHAIRMAN WALTER: The same answer. In other words, you mean that you decline to answer because of the reasons stated before?

MR. SEEGER: I gave my answer, sir.

CHAIRMAN WALTER: What is your answer?

MR. SEEGER: You see, sir, I feel-

CHAIRMAN WALTER: What is your answer?

MR. SEEGER: I will tell you what my answer is.

(Witness consulted with counsel [Paul L. Ross].)

I feel that in my whole life I have never done anything of any conspiratorial nature and I resent very much and very deeply the implication of being called before this Committee that in some way because my opinions may be different from yours, or yours, Mr. Willis, or yours, Mr. Scherer, that I am any less of an American than anybody else. I love my country very deeply, sir.

CHAIRMAN WALTER: Why don't you make a little contribution toward preserving its institutions?

MR. SEEGER: I feel that my whole life is a contribution. That is why I would like to tell you about it.

CHAIRMAN WALTER: I don't want to hear about it.

MR. SCHERER: I think that there must be a direction to answer.

CHAIRMAN WALTER: I direct you to answer that question.

MR. SEEGER: I have already given you my answer, sir.

MR. SCHERER: Let me understand. You are not relying on the Fifth Amendment, are you?

MR. SEEGER: No, sir, although I do not want to in any way discredit or depreciate or depredate the witnesses that have used the Fifth Amendment, and I simply feel it is improper for this committee to ask such questions.

MR. SCHERER: And then in answering the rest of the questions, or in refusing to answer the rest of the questions, I understand that you are not relying on the Fifth Amendment as a basis for your refusal to answer?

MR. SEEGER: No, I am not, sir.

Seeger was held in contempt for this testimony and sentenced to one year in jail. He finally won on appeal after years of legal wrangling.

RIP Nelson Mandela

This is one of those passings when all the superlatives coming out of the radios and TV and on the Intertubes are fitting.  Not only did Nelson Mandela live an incredible life (although 27 years of it were in prison), but he touched literally billions.  I was one of them.  In my college years, there were two political issues which rocked the campuses — in the early 1980's, it was nuclear proliferation.  In the mid-1980's, it was Mandela's cause: apartheid.

As leader of the African National Congress, Mandela himself had been languishing away in prison since 1964.  His cause was taken to the United States in the ealry 1970s.  Few paid attention.  Then, slowly, some did.  In the late 70's and early 80's, certain municipalities in California made sure they none of their pension plan money was invested in businesses that did business in South Africa.  The idea took on.  In San Francisco, dock workers — most of whom most assuredly had no relatives or connection to South Africa — refused to unload cargo from ships that came from South Africa.

By the mid-1980s, andti-apartheid was everywhere.  Campuses erupted in protest — not like you saw in the 1960s, but protest nonetheless, as students urged (successfully) that their schools divest in South African businesses.  Musicians vowed not to play Sun City.

 

The idea was to let the white power minority in South Africa know that they would suffer as a result of their official policy of apartheid.

Reagan and the conservatives were, as usual, on the wrong side of history.  While giving lip service to evils of apartheid, Reagan steadfastly refused to impose sanctions against South Africa.  Mandela was a terrorist, Reagan would say (which was true, Mandela was on the terrorist list and the African National Congress was deemed a terrorist group).  But of course, Reagan's policies had a lot to do with who was on that list.

When Congress voted for sanctions against South Africa, Reagan vetoed the bill.  Then, for the first and only time in the 20th century, Congress overrode a veto on a matter relating to foreign policy, and sanctions were imposed.  South Africa's power brokers began to see the end.

Mandela wasn't released from prison until 1991, and became President of South Africa in 1994.  He will long be remembered for what he did as President — rather than seeking punishment or (some would say) justice against his former oppressors, including those who committed human rights violations against him, Mandela adopted a policy of forgiveness.  Anyone who confessed to their crimes given amnesty.  This helped heal South Africa after the end of apartheid.

Many in the media are comparing Mandela to Martin Luther King, Jr.  Inapt, I say.  Apartheid was segregation on steroids.  It is one thing to oppress a minoirty, as in segregation.  It is quite another for whites to suppress blacks when blacks outnumber whites 7-to-1.  That was apartheid.

Mandela served only one term as president.  After that, approaching his 80's, he was still active in fighting poverty and AIDS, and an advocate for children's education.

He died yesterday at the age of 95.  I think he was the last great leader for many centuries to come.  Presidents and other world leaders come and go, but I don't think any come close to the worldwide impact of Mandela.  He was Washington.  He was Chruchill.

Note: Lot of hypocrites out there right now eulogizing Mandela.  Let's not forget that the warbloggers and Tea Partiers (and their followers in the UK) were vilifying him when he criticized US policy under George W. Bush or said something on Palestine that deviated from the standard US-media line.

Those Who Don’t Laugh At The Past Are Forced To Repeat It

So this happened in 1919:

Panorama of the Molasses Disaster sitePanorama of the Molasses Disaster site

On January 15th, 1919, in what was probably the most bizarre disaster in United States' history, a storage tank burst on Boston's waterfront releasing two million gallons of molasses in a 15 ft-high, 160 ft-wide wave that raced through the city's north end at 35mph destroying everything it touched.

And then this week, this happened:

Hawaii spill

No, MLK Was Not In The GOP

billboard2

“Most people don’t talk about the fact that Martin Luther King was a Republican.”

That’s a quote from Ada Fisher, a Republican National Committeewoman from North Carolina, that was published without qualification or correction this week by ABC News.

Fisher is wrong on two fronts. First, many people talk about the “fact” that King was a Republican. It is asserted incessantly by conservatives on Twitter and elsewhere on the internet, especially in the lead up to today’s 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. The claim is most prominently advanced by King’s niece, Republican activist Alveda King. Over the years, conservative groups have purchased billboards making the claim.

Second, Martin Luther King Jr. was not a Republican. Or a Democrat.

King was not a partisan and never endorsed any political candidate. In a 1958 interview, King said “I don’t think the Republican party is a party full of the almighty God nor is the Democratic party. They both have weaknesses … And I’m not inextricably bound to either party.”

King did, however, weigh in on the Republican party during his lifetime. In Chapter 23 of his autobiography, King writes this about the 1964 Republican National Convention:

The Republican Party geared its appeal and program to racism, reaction, and extremism. All people of goodwill viewed with alarm and concern the frenzied wedding at the Cow Palace of the KKK with the radical right. The “best man” at this ceremony was a senator whose voting record, philosophy, and program were anathema to all the hard-won achievements of the past decade.

Senator Goldwater had neither the concern nor the comprehension necessary to grapple with this problem of poverty in the fashion that the historical moment dictated. On the urgent issue of civil rights, Senator Goldwater represented a philosophy that was morally indefensible and socially suicidal. While not himself a racist, Mr. Goldwater articulated a philosophy which gave aid and comfort to the racist. His candidacy and philosophy would serve as an umbrella under which extremists of all stripes would stand. In the light of these facts and because of my love for America, I had no alternative but to urge every Negro and white person of goodwill to vote against Mr. Goldwater and to withdraw support from any Republican candidate that did not publicly disassociate himself from Senator Goldwater and his philosophy.

King barnstormed the country on behalf on Johnson in 1964, “maintaining only a thin veneer of nonpartisanship,” according to biographer Nick Kotz. King called Johnson’s win a “great victory for the forces of progress and a defeat for the forces of retrogress.”

Here is what King had to say about Ronald Reagan, the hero of modern Republicans:

When a Hollywood performer, lacking distinction even as an actor can become a leading war hawk candidate for the Presidency, only the irrationalities induced by a war psychosis can explain such a melancholy turn of events.

David Garrow, who wrote a Pulitzer Prize winning biography of King, stated “It’s simply incorrect to call Dr. King a Republican.”

King, according to Garrow, did hold some Republicans — including Richard Nixon and Nelson Rockefeller — in high regard. He also was harshly critical of Lyndon Johnson’s escalation of the Vietnam War.

In 2008, King’s son Martin Luther King III said “It is disingenuous to imply that my father was a Republican. He never endorsed any presidential candidate, and there is certainly no evidence that he ever even voted for a Republican.” Garrow claimed there is little doubt King voted for Kennedy in 1960 and Johnson in 1964.

Also, despite what you might hear from conservatives like Glenn Beck or Sean Hannity or the idiot in the office:

1. Martin Luther King was against prayer in school and thought that Christianity meant that you had to help the poor. 

2. Martin Luther King thought America's use of military power was immoral and that protesters loved their country.

3. This is not to mention that Martin Luther King thought that money spent on useless wars would be better spent on anti-poverty programs.

4. Unlike today's Democrats, Martin Luther King believed that radical activism, even at the risk of arrest, was more important than moderation and compromise. Principle over popularity.

5. Martin Luther King believed that a janitor was as important as a doctor and that the government had the duty to ensure that the janitor was taken care of as well as the doctor was, including a guaranteed wage, health care, and more.

6. Martin Luther King believed that the rich needed to pay their fair share to help lift people out of poverty. They should, you know, spread the wealth, especially through taxation.

7. And, after a change of heart, Martin Luther King did not believe in owning a gun.

Dream Still Pending

50 years ago, but worth another read:

 

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. 

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating “For Whites Only”. We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair. 

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, “My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.”

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.

Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

P.S.   

On @msnbc, Julian Bond says several Republican leaders were invited to speak at the march today but declined.

— AdamSerwer (@AdamSerwer) August 28, 2013

12 Years Ago Today

12 years ago today was the infamous August 6 PDB (or Presidential Daily Briefing) which said, in really big letters:

BIN LADEN DETERMINED TO STRIKE IN U.S.

After listening to the briefer who told him this on Bush's ranch, Bush reportedly replied, "All right. You've covered your ass, now."

We know what happened a month later.

Which led to a war against Afghanistan.

Which allowed Skippy McNumbnuts to fight a war in Iraq.

Which meant that the nation's surplus became a huge deficit.

Which contributed to the bad state we are in now economically.

Just saying.

English Baby Born

Perhaps at the turn of the next century, Baby ________, born today to Prince William and Kate Middleton, will finally become King of England at the ripe old age of 87.  And perhaps someone will do some researching back in time to see what people were saying on the day the once and future King of England was born.  That day would be today, about half an hour ago.

Yaaaaaaaaaaaawn!

Happy 84th Birthday, Anne

This footage, discovered within the last decade, was originally shot on July 22 1941.  It shows the wedding of a person living at Merwedeplein 39, Amsterdam.  For a few brief seconds, the camera shows a young girl looking down from the second floor at the events transpiring below her.

This is the only known footage of Anne Frank.

 

45 Years Ago Today

I often wonder how different the world would have been had it not been for June 5, 1968.  No President Nixon.  An earlier Vietnam withdrawal.  An all-out effort to end poverty and starvation.  Different lessons learned.  Probably a much kinder nation.

 

Oldest Concentration Camp Survivor Dead At 107

AP:

VIENNA (AP) — An Austrian organization that tracks the fate of Nazi concentration camp inmates says the oldest known survivor of such a camp has died aged 107.

The Mauthausen Committee said Thursday that Leopold Engleitner died April 21. After refusing to renounce his faith as a Jehovah's Witness, he survived three concentration camps and forced labor between 1939 and 1945.

He weighed just 28 kilograms — about 60 pounds — on release from the Ravensbrueck camp in 1943 after he agreed to work as farm slave laborer. Later ordered to report to Hitler's army, Engleitner hid in the Tyrolean countryside until after the war ended.

Engleitner's life was documented in the book and film "Unbroken Will," by Austrian film-maker and author Bernhard Rammerstorfer, and he toured Europe and America to share his experiences.

I find this hard to believe somehow.  Are they saying that everyone who was in a concentration camp in 1945 is dead now?  Even children?

Maybe there's a difference between a "Nazi concentration camp" and the other ones.  I don't know.

A Little Late, Sandy

Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the conservative retired justice who provided the fifth vote to install George W. Bush as president, is now having second thoughts about that decision:

Looking back, O’Connor said, she isn’t sure the high court should have taken [Bush v. Gore].

“It took the case and decided it at a time when it was still a big election issue,” O’Connor said during a talk Friday with the Tribune editorial board. “Maybe the court should have said, ‘We’re not going to take it, goodbye.’”

The case, she said, “stirred up the public” and “gave the court a less-than-perfect reputation.”

“Obviously the court did reach a decision and thought it had to reach a decision,” she said. “It turned out the election authorities in Florida hadn’t done a real good job there and kind of messed it up. And probably the Supreme Court added to the problem at the end of the day.