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Posts Tagged ‘History’

Books are the carriers of civilization.
Without books history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill.  They are the engines of change, windows on the world (as a poet said) lighthouses erected in the sea of time.  They are companions, teachers, magicians, bankers of the treasures of the mind.  Books are humanity in print.
  —  Barbara W. Tuckman
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On This Day In:
2018 Not Necessarily In This Order
Stock Market Sets More Records Under #DumbDonald
2017 An Accumulation Of Acts
2016 Here’s Lookin’ At You Kid
2015 How To Be Omnipotent
2014 The Promise Of Future Love
2013 Christian, n.
2012 Praise
Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood
2011 A Few More Lyrics From The Past
5 For The Price Of 1
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To sin by silence when they should protest, makes cowards of human beings.
  —  Abraham Lincoln
[It is vitally important to continue resisting the programs of President Trump and the Republican Senate.  It is equally important to support the Democratic control of the House of Representatives.  Remember, if there is no clear election in the Electoral College in 2020, the decision of who will be the next President will fall to the House of Representatives.  I believe this is what the Republicans were actually hoping for when the “Anyone but Trump” Republican movement went silent.  They didn’t have to get Trump elected President in the popular vote.  The Republicans only had to tie up the Electoral College.  In which case, Paul Ryan most probably would have been “elected” President.  One: he was the Republican VP nominee in the prior election (2012).  Normally, when the ticket fails, the VP choice is the next one in line to be put forward.  And, two: Ryan was the Speaker of the House, which means he was already the “prime” person to be elevated from the House to the Oval Office.  When (in 2016) Florida went to the Republicans and the House was retained by the Republicans, they only needed one of the Rust Belt states and South Carolina to stop Clinton, irrespective of her national popular vote count.  The same conditions will be true in 2020, if the Republicans can somehow flip the House back to their control.
Added to that (final control of the Presidential election), the House also has primary responsibility for seat reapportionment after the 2020 census.  If Republicans flip control back (to themselves) they will use even more gerrymandering to reduce the value of the popular vote.  (Of course, this presumes the Republicans retain control of the majority of the State Houses, too.  Since they control 32 States to the Dems 14, it seems likely they will.)  Don’t misinterpret me.  The Democratic Party will also gerrymander, but they “generally” do so to increase the value of the popular vote.  They (the Democrats) “only” do this because the demographics of the future favor the the Democratic Party.  Basically, older (mostly white male) voters are dying and the younger voters (across all genders, ethnic breakdown, income and education levels) replacing them on the voting roles are trending to the Democratic Party.  And without newer ideas, the Conservative / Republican Party will continue to wither away.  IMHO: It is only “Dark Money” and the Citizens United decision which have propped the Republican Party up this far.
A word to the wise should suffice…   Stay engaged locally.   #Resist  —  KMAB]
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On This Day In:
2018 More Executive Time For #DumbDonald
2017 Watched The Inauguration
Two Geniuses
2016 Come Dance And Laugh With Me
2015 Looks Good To Me
2014 Desire For The Sea
2013 The Fierce Urgency Of NOW
Happy Inauguration Day!
2012 One Path
Sorrow And Joy
The Seven Year View
2011 Emergent Practicality

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The Court-Martial Of Billy Mitchell” (1955)  —  movie review
Today’s review is for an oldie but a goodie.  It’s a fictionalized version of mostly real events surrounding the court-martial of an Army officer who would later be considered a prophet and the “founder” of the Air Force: William (“Billy”) Lendrum Mitchell.   The movie stars Gary Cooper in the title role.  This is one of my two favorite war genre movies starring Cooper.  The other is another semi-biography: “Sergeant York“.  In this movie Mitchell is an Army General who gets busted in rank for disobeying orders by destroying a battleship to prove it can be done by aircraft with bombs.  (In real life, Mitchell did sink the battleship, but he didn’t disobey orders.  Also, he didn’t lose rank for that act.  He lost rank as a result of a general reduction in forces after the end of WWI.)  After the death of a naval aviator friend and a squadron of his former pilots, Mitchell makes public statements to the press bring disrepute to the armed services (Army and Navy).  For this, he is brought up on charges to be court-martialed.
I saw this movie a couple of times in my youth and remembered it generally as a courtroom / trial movie.  Because of the age of the movie and when I first saw it, I assumed it would be in black and white.  I can only guess that was because it (a black and white TV) was all we had when I was a child.  I was pleasantly surprised to find the movie is actually a “color” movie.
Besides Cooper, the movie stars Ralph Bellamy as Congressman Frank R. Reid (attorney for the defense) and Rod Steiger as Maj. Allan Guillion (the prosecutor) and multiple future 60’s / 70’s TV stars: Jack Lord as Lt. Cmdr. Zachary ‘Zack’ Lansdowne (the Navy officer / friend who dies), Elizabeth Montgomery as Margaret Lansdowne (Zack’s wife) and Peter Graves and Darren McGavin as a couple of Mitchell’s pilots.
The movie is interesting because it shows (accurately) that as early as the 1920’s that it was predictable the Japanese would attack Pearl Harbor using aircraft.  What it failed to predict (in the movie and in real life) was the use of carriers to deliver those aircraft.  Mitchell believed the aircraft would come from “nearby” islands.  In real life, Mitchell died before the attack on Peal Harbor, so he never saw his predictions come true.  He was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for service to his country.  The award was a bit unusual because it was awarded for his effort to promote aviation and not for any specific act of valor in the act of combat as is usually the requirement.
Final recommendation:  highly recommended movie.  Aside from the historical “prediction”, I found the movie to be very entertaining as a courtroom drama and as a view into the institution of the military and the integrity of the officers represented in the movie – both Mitchell and the court-martial board.  General MacArthur comes across particularly well in the behind the scenes “Board” arguments.   This surprised me as I am not a big MacArthur fan.  Finally, I want to give a shout out to Rod Steiger as one of the prosecuting officers.  This is one of my favorite of his roles, too.  I watched this movie on YouTube.  It is also available on DVD / disc and periodically on TV.
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On This Day In:
2018 Be Someone’s Kindling
2017 When The Moment Comes
2016 Changed Clothes Lately?
2015 Like Stone
2014 Resistance Is Futile
2013 Subtle Humor
To Look Behind Green Eyes
2012 The Path Is Endless
2011 Happy MLK, Jr Day!!!
A Factor Of Ten
Better Late Than Never?
Whoops!
Acceptable Beginnings
Slow Progress
Useful Confrontation
When Phenomena Are Different
Creative Avoidance
Thinking
Fast And Flexible
Surrender Certainty
Techniques
Vive La Difference
Destiny
Completeness
Art

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Once you got to Iraq and took it over, and took down Saddam Hussein’s government, then what are you going to put in its place?
That’s a very volatile part of the world, and if you take down the central government of Iraq you can easily end up seeing pieces of Iraq fly off.  Part of it the Syrians would like to have to the west.  Part of eastern Iraq, the Iranians would like to claim, fought over for eight years.  In the north you’ve got the Kurds, and if the Kurds spin loose and join with the Kurds in Turkey, then you threaten the territorial integrity of Turkey.  It’s a quagmire.
  —  Dick Cheney
From an interview with CNN on April 15th, 1994.
[This quote was found at a blog I follow:  The Bully Pulpit
The original post is located at:  https://jrbenjamin.com/2014/09/10/its-a-quagmire/
It is an interesting site to visit if you have some time.  Unfortunately, it is not posted to very frequently anymore.  —  KMAB]
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On This Day In:
2018 Be Someone’s Kindling
2017 When The Moment Comes
2016 Changed Clothes Lately?
2015 Like Stone
2014 Resistance Is Futile
2013 Subtle Humor
To Look Behind Green Eyes
2012 The Path Is Endless
2011 Happy MLK, Jr Day!!!
A Factor Of Ten
Better Late Than Never?
Whoops!
Acceptable Beginnings
Slow Progress
Useful Confrontation
When Phenomena Are Different
Creative Avoidance
Thinking
Fast And Flexible
Surrender Certainty
Techniques
Vive La Difference
Destiny
Completeness
Art

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Life is for one generation; a good name is forever.
  —  Japanese Proverb
America will never be destroyed from the outside.  If we falter, and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.
  —  Abraham Lincoln
[A message to Donald Trump – who conspired with the Russians to defraud the American public and win the Presidency in the 2016 election:  A life of wealth and privilege which was granted to you by your father will soon be sacrificed on the altar of your ego, incompetence and criminal hubris.  You will be driven from office either by election or by impeachment.  And you will have to live with THAT and the judgement of history.
Mueller is coming…   He is carrying Valyrian steel (truth) and bringing Dragonglass (justice).   …And winter (your Administration) is almost over!   —  KMAB]
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On This Day In:
2018 Light Or Darkness
2017 Doubtful Education
2016 Absolute
2015 Still The Best Teacher
2014 Inside The Soul
2013 A Toe In The River
2012 Believe It Or Not
2011 The Road To Recovery (And More Myths)

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Defense Secretary James Mattis resigned today (20 December 2018) – effective 28 February 2019, to allow time for a replacement confirmation.   Secretary Mattis (Retired Marine Corps General) resigned due to differences with the policies of President Trump.  Below is Secretary Mattis’ resignation letter (and transcript below that).
Page 1 of Sec. Mattis Resignation Letter
Page 2 of Sec. Mattis Resignation Letter
Dear Mr. President:
I have been privileged to serve as our country’s 26th Secretary of Defense which has allowed me to serve alongside our men and women of the Department in defense of our citizens and our ideals.
I am proud of the progress that has been made over the past two years on some of the key goals articulated in our National Defense Strategy: putting the Department on a more sound budgetary footing, improving readiness and lethality in our forces, and reforming the Department’s business practices for greater performance.  Our troops continue to provide the capabilities needed to prevail in conflict and sustain strong U.S. global influence.
One core belief I have always held is that our strength as a nation is inextricably linked to the strength of our unique and comprehensive system of alliances and partnerships.  While the US remains the indispensable nation in the free world, we cannot protect our interests or serve that role effectively without maintaining strong alliances and showing respect to those allies.  Like you, I have said from the beginning that the armed forces of the United States should not be the policeman of the world.  Instead, we must use all tools of American power to provide for the common defense, including providing effective leadership to our alliances.  NATO’s 29 democracies demonstrated that strength in their commitment to fighting alongside us following the 9-11 attack on America.  The Defeat-ISIS coalition of 74 nations is further proof.
Similarly, I believe we must be resolute and unambiguous in our approach to those countries whose strategic interests are increasingly in tension with ours.  It is clear that China and Russia, for example, want to shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model – gaining veto authority over other nations’ economic, diplomatic, and security decisions – to promote their own interests at the expense of their neighbors, America and our allies.  That is why we must use all the tools of American power to provide for the common defense.
My views on treating allies with respect and also being clear-eyed about both malign actors and strategic competitors are strongly held and informed by over four decades of immersion in these issues.  We must do everything possible to advance an international order that is most conducive to our security, prosperity and values, and we are strengthened in this effort by the solidarity of our alliances.
Because you have the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects, I believe it is right for me to step down from my position.  The end date for my tenure is February 28, 2019, a date that should allow sufficient time for a successor to be nominated and confirmed as well as to make sure the Department’s interests are properly articulated and protected at upcoming events to include Congressional posture hearings and the NATO Defense Ministerial meeting in February.  Further, that a full transition to a new Secretary of Defense occurs well in advance of the transition of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in September in order to ensure stability within the Department.
I pledge my full effort to a smooth transition that ensures the needs and interests of the 2.15 million Service Members and 732,079 DoD civilians receive undistracted attention of the Department at all times so that they can fulfill their critical, round-the-clock mission to protect the American people.
I very much appreciate this opportunity to serve the nation and our men and women in uniform.
[Whenever a high-ranking military officer disagrees so fundamentally with the policy, course of action or directions being given by the President (Commander-In_Chief), it is their duty to resign from their position and bring their objections to the American public.  This is an “honorable” resignation.
In our nation’s history, there have been senior officers objecting to their political commander who have acted contrary to lawful policy and direction (both Democratic and Republican) and who have stayed in post and attempted to ameliorate policy / directions they objected to.  Only historians can judge whether these officers acted with honor (or not).
President Assad rules Syria and wishes us to leave so he can continue to crush his opposition and remain in power indefinitely.  Putin wants us to leave Syria to increase Russian influence in the area and to gain access to “warm-water” ports in Syria.  Iran wants us to leave Syria in order to establish an arc of influence through Iraq to Syria (and the Mediterranean).  Turkey wants us to leave in order to crush the Syrian Kurds (and along with them, the Turkish Kurds).  The Turkish Kurds assisted us in Iraq and are now doing the same in Syria.  They want us to stay.  The Syrian Kurds want our help and want us to stay.  Israel and Saudi Arabia foolishly support President Trump because they feel he will support them.  Between Israel and Russia, Trump will support Russia.  Saudi Arabia is the enemy of Iran because Iran is not Arab and because Iran believes in the Shiite version of Islam while the Saudi’s believe in the Sunni version.  Trump supports Saudi Arabia over Iran (in theory), but he doesn’t seem to realize the long term effect of increasing Iranian influence in Syria will be to the detriment of both Israel and Saudi Arabia.
As for ISIS / ISIL, they are one of the factions seeking to over-throw Assad.  They are Muslim and Assad is Ba’ath.  Assad seeks to destroy ISIL because that’s what he does to all of his enemies.
If the U.S. abandons Syria and the Kurds, we will pay for this policy failure for decades and generations ALL around the world – not just in the Middle East.
I happen to agree with President Trump, that we should get our troops out of Afghanistan and reduce our military footprint in the Middle East – not just Syria.  In Afghanistan, as soon as possible.  In Syria, only after we have secured land for the Syrian Kurds and, after that, for as long as the Kurds need our protection from Russia, Turkey and Iran – and, of course, from Assad.  Unfortunately, this may mean decades…
Israel and Saudi Arabia will pay for supporting President Trump.  Sooner or later he will turn on them, too.   After all, Trump is a snake, they know he is a snake, and to quote candidate Trump’s campaign speech:  “You knew damn well I was a snake before you took me in.”
Just sayin’…  —  KMAB]
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On This Day In:
2017 Beneath The Tree Of Wisdom
The Republican Rape Of The American Middle Class
2016 Something Authentic Happened
2015 Back On The Bricks
On, Rocinante!!
2014 Changing Frequently
2013 Trifles
2012 Simple, Ordinary And Wonderous
2011 Humane Writers

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My mechanic told me “I couldn’t fix your brakes, so I made your horn louder.”
  —  Steven Wright
[Without any significant accomplishments (which the majority of Americans actually supported) during his first two years as President, #IncompetentDonald chose to use the mid-term elections campaign to spread hate and fear.  The results were a (not surprising) repudiation of the President where the number of Americans voting against Republicans increased from three million votes (Trump vs. Hilary popular vote loss count) to over six million (nationwide total – see image below) in the House and twelve million (nationwide total) in the Senate.  It is only the fact that Republicans outnumber Democrats in States with smaller populations which has allowed them to retain control of the Senate.  In the United States, each State gets two Senators irrespective of the State’s population.  The House, on the other hand, gets Districts assigned based on populations with a minimum of one.  Some of the States with smaller populations (Alaska, Delaware, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont and Wyoming) only have one Representative (called “at large”) with their “District” being the entire State.  The Senate is “inherently” less “democratic” for the nation by design.  Additionally, by only having one-third of its members up for re-election in any given election, it is also “inherently” more moderating (i.e. “conservative”) in representing the overall population of both the State and the nation.  (The Senate is the “brake” in this metaphor.)  Because the entire House of Representatives is up for re-election each election period, the House tends to reflect the political swings in the electorate more quickly and more radically – direction and degree – when the country is shouting “Stop” or “Speed-up”.  (The House is the “horn”.)

Image showing Democratic nationwide vote difference in 2018

Democratic nationwide vote difference in 2018

Of course, the comparison of vote totals above – numbers for President, House and Senate – are comparing apples to oranges to bananas.  And / but, they also do NOT take into account the significant gerrymandering done as of the 2010 census, which heavily tilted the House Districts in favor of the Republicans.  This makes the wins by the Democrats even MORE impressive!  It remains to be seen if those changes will remain when we go back into a Presidential turnout.  It also highlights the importance of Democrats working at the State level to regain control of as many State governorships and legislatures as possible heading into the next (2020) census and subsequent House redistricting.  The number of seats is controlled at the Federal level, but the actual redrawing of the Districts is done by the individual States.
This last part, the census and the redistricting is why it is vitally important for the electorate (the voters) to stay active during the run-up to 2020 (the census) and then immediately after through 2022, when the redistricting will normally occur.  In other words, you (voters seeking to make a progressive difference) can’t go to sleep between now and 2022 or the Republicans can continue and increase their relative positions through 2032.   By the way, the gerrymander is not (by any means) unique to the Republicans.  The Democrats have also used it to protect their seats.  The difference is the modern day use of computers to track voters and then specifically target the isolation of opposition voters to maximize their count while minimizing their effect.  For example, one State (Pennsylvania) had 51% of the vote (Democrats), but seated 5 out of 18 Districts (28% of the House seats) in 2012 because Republicans controlled the State legislature.  So, a word to the wise…  If you want to keep the house after 2020, stay awake and stay active!
Finally, for an excellent explanation of Gerrymandering, please read the linked article:  “This is the best explanation of gerrymandering you will ever see“, which appeared in the Washington Post a few years back.  I re-read it every year to remind myself of what is at stake.  —  KMAB]
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On This Day In:
2017 He Says, It Says
2016 Marriage Advice
2015 To James (and ‘Tasha)
2014 Ssshhush, You Are Not Alone
2013 So I Chose Living…
2012 For However Short A Time…
2011 Take A Deep Breath And Continue (Or Not)
2010 Tootsie-Roll Day

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