Category Archives: History

Happy 4th of July

I’ve been waiting for the right inspiration to wish my readers well today. This image comes from Andrew Sullivan’s blog where he regularly publishes photos his readers have taken from the windows where they are reading his blog. They are called the VFYW or View From Your Window.

This one is a beaut. From Woody Guthrie’s This land is your land, this land is my land, From California to the New York Islands…..

Would this be acceptable in the US?

Would it be anti-semitic of me to deplore the slow abandonment of democratic principles by Israel’s Jewish population?

“…according to a 2010 survey by the Israel Democracy Institute, 86 percent of the Jewish public believe that decisions critical to the state should be taken only by a Jewish majority;”


“…and 55 percent say that greater resources should be allocated to Jewish communities than to Arab ones.”


Every now and then I’ll hear some piece of information back to back from very different sources which amplify the importance of the information.

That just happened to me today. In the broadcast referred to in the previous post about George Marshall I learned that George Marshall was appointed Chief of the Army the night that Germany defeated France. He was woken at 3AM and given the news.

Just now I was watching BBC Newsnight when an interview about German author Hans Fallada took place. I’d never heard of him. He was an opponant of Hitler and fascism during the war and when it was over wrote a novel Alone in Berlin about a middle class couple who defied the Nazi’s and paid for it by being beheaded by the Gestapo.

The book has been well known in Germany but until now has not had a good English translation. Apparently it has finally been successfully translated and its a cracker jack story.

For as long as I can remember going back to my years in elementary school I’ve heard people ask why Germans rolled over and let the fascists get away with what they did. The folks on the BBC interview said that while 12,000 folks are estimated to have been resisters in Berlin almost all Germans fell into line when France fell to Germany and it was obvious that resistance was futile.

In both America and Germany most people thought that a war would proceed along the lines of the First World War and end up in a long stalemate along the French border where my grandfather earned his Congressional Medal of Honor.

History doesn’t always repeat itself. For instance, I don’t always lose elections.

Age 59

I’ve always planned to live to age 100. If I manage it that leaves 40% of my life yet to look forward to. When I was young I was very aware of the youth of famous individuals who accomplished remarkable things at a tender age.

Today on MPR I heard a wonderful broadcast about a giant, albeit one that young people may not have heard of, George Marshall. Until he was 59 his life was largely of no consequence beyond his own immediate circle. After that he became a giant in war and peace.

Since I’m 59 too I found this news particularly gratifying.

And one more thing. George Marshall became a figure beloved in Congress because he was scrupulously non partisan, so much so that he never voted. When asked by partisans what his political leanings were he told them that his Mother was a Republican, his Father was a Democrat and he was an Episcopalian.

If anyone is going to solve Minnesota’s budget problems they’d better be an Episcopalian.

Viguerie’s Vengeance

Richard Viguerie is the man who developed the voter identification services that helped make the Republican Party the majority party and helped bring about talk radio which put both spine and venom in the GOP. I heard him on NPR today explaining why he expected the Democrats to fail. I can’t find that story on the NPR webpage. However this story from a few days earlier explains why he didn’t at all ming having the GOP take a tumble last Tuesday.

Flags of our Fathers.

My campaigning is almost at an end. I could have put up lawnsigns today but I’m content to let my handful of remaining ads do the heavy lifting.

Since my wife went off with a number of church women to a retreat today I took the afternoon to watch Clint Eastwood’s Flags of our Fathers. Claudia isn’t interested in gore and this movie has that in spades but like Tom Hank’s Private Ryan it was shown in the service of honesty not exploitation. Apparently Eastwood plans on filiming another movie about the fighting on Iwo Jima from the Japanese point of view. I’ll be sure to watch that movie too.

I knew the story well enough that I wasn’t confused by the cuts back and forth in time. As I left Jim and Carol, also from our church told me that her family had known one of the flag raisers, a fellow who still lives in the Twin Cities. Like me they stayed through the movie credits which showed original war photos from the island. Jim told me that the theater should let every native American into the movie free. I understood what he meant. Adam Beach performance as Ira Hayes a Pima Indian was wrenching.

Is the new left like the old new right?

I’m still catching up with all the newspapers I missed while overseas. One very interesting New York Times article that I’ve just read by Sam Tanenhaus, suggests that today’s blogging lefties are the equivelent of Bill Buckley and the conservatives that swept aside moderate Republicans while championing Goldwater and Reagan. I’m not sure what to make of Tanenhaus’s claim that today’s lefties are less extreme but they may indeed be a harbinger of things to come.

The GOP and making good money

An article today caught my eye and on a topic I’ve been licking my lips to expound on. The GOP and its new ethos that confuses the making of money with the strengthening of the economy.

It seems that the US military which pays starvation wages to its enlisted personnel wants to crack down on Payday loan establishments that prey on servicemen. In the story today one soldier took a $255 dollar advance on a $300 guaranteed pay check. This used to be called usury and most states used to have laws against it. That fee is comparable to a 459% interest rate. Compare that with the going rate for a home mortgage loan and you can see how soldiers are being taken.

But the military sees its servicemen being bled dry by these Republican sanctioned outfits. The military wants to protect its troops from these predators but everyone should be protected from them. The growth of the once non existent car “title loans” is the same thing. Poor people hand over their car titles for emergency money and lose their only means of transportation for loans that are in the neighborhood of 100 % or more.

Rather than protect the vulnerable poor (even servicemen) Republicans insist that the poor are entitled to ruin themselves and have only themselves to blame. Too many of these modern Era Republicans never saw anything wrong with any way to make a buck (other than selling drugs).

Just look at gambling. Once strongly anti-gaming the Republican Party now pushes gaming everywhere despite it socially destructive consequences. The Republicans, hate to tax wealthy people even when the wealth is acquired more through legislation than enterprise. But with reduced tax revenues, socially destructive gambling has become an acceptable new source for revenue. Except for Indian gaming……That’s why Republicans in state’s like Minnesota have tried to break into the Indian gaming industry and why they rail against Indian sovereignty. Why are we letting all these poor Indians keep all this money? It would be better if we just let them sell cigarettes and set up title loans on the Rez.