Thursday, December 24, 2009

History in the News

Celebrating Stalin
He is arguably one of the most evil individuals in history but he is still has his supporters. The Boston Globe has another take on the issue.

How the Left Turned on Israel
The left has a strong anti-semitic history as well as a tendency to support totalitarianism. The fact that it has turned against the a Democracy in the Middle East is therefore not surprising.

Japan and China continue talks on World War II History
Their view of events couldn't be more polarized but at least they are talking.

Looking at the Japanese Meiji Period
During this period Japan transformed herself into a power. The philosophy inherent in the change is therefore worth looking at.

Auschwitz sign recovered

This has been an utterly disgraceful episode but at least the sign has been recovered

The Nazi gang that ordered the theft of the infamous 'Arbeit Macht Frei' sign from the gates of Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland planned to sell it to fund violent attacks against the Swedish Prime Minister and Parliament, it was claimed today.

A spokesman for the Swedish security police confirmed that the authorities were taking seriously a threat by a militant Nazi group to disrupt national elections next year.

"We are aware of the information about the alleged attack plans," said Patrik Peter, the security police spokesman.

We have taken actions. We view this seriously.”

The wrought-iron sign, whose inscription – translated as 'Work sets you free' – was viewed by hundreds of thousands of Jews as they entered the Nazi death camp where they met their deaths during the Second World War. It was stolen from the camp – now a museum – last Friday, provoking worldwide expressions of dismay and revulsion.

For the rest go to the Source:

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

US Civil War Some Facts

1. It was the bloodiest war in American history. 620,000 people died or 2% of the population.
2. Eleven states withdrew from the Union to form the confederacy. They were:
South Carolina (first to secede), Mississipi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas - first round - followed by Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee and North Carolina.
3. First Battle of the War - Attack on Fort Sumter (April 1861)
4. Strength of the Union forces: 2.1 million. Strength of the Confederacy troops: 1.1 milion.
5. Number of Union dead: 360,000. Number of Confederacy dead: 260,000. On both sides about a third of these deaths were a direct result of KIA (Killed in Action).
6. Key Union Generals: Ulysses S. Grant, William T. Sherman, George Meade, Winfield Scott, Joseph Hooker, George McClellan, John Pope, William Rosecrans and Ambrose Burnside.
7. Length of the War - Almost 4 Years - April 12, 1861 - April 9, 1865.
8. Last battle - Battle of Palmito Ranch was actually fought after the war ended in May 1865.
9. States loyal to the Union: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachussets, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Wisconsin.
Nevada and West Virginia also joined the Union.
10. Territories on the Union side included: Colorado, Dakota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mesxico, Utah and Washington.
11. Major Confederate Battle Wins: Chickamauga, Chancellorsville, First Battle of Bull Run (Manassas), Fredericksburg, Second Battle of Bull Run (Virginia).
12. Inconclusive Battles: Spotsylvania, Antietam and Wilderness.
13. Major Union Battle Wins: Gettysburg, Stones River, Shiloh, Vicksburg and Fort Donelson.
14. Three Battles with the biggest number of casulaties: Gettysburg (51,112), Chickamauga (34,624) and Chancellorsville(30,099).
15. State where the most number of battles were fought: Virginia
16. Place where the South surrended (under Robert E. Lee) - Appomattox Courthouse (1865)
17. Key Generals of the Confederacy: Robert E.Lee, Stonewall Jackson, Braxton Bragg. James Longstreet, John Hood, John Pemberton and Pierre Beauregard.
18. At the Battle of Shiloh - more Americans fell than in all previous wars combined.
19. Over 3500 Native americans fought in the war for the Union. Just less than a third were killed.
20. Disease killed twice as many men as did actually battle wounds.
21. The US Congress issued the first ever paper currency - Greenbacks.
22. African Americans made up 1% of the northern population but supplied 10% of the Union's troops.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Presidential Facts

First President: George Washington
Second President: John Adams
President involved in the Declaration of Independence: Thomas Jefferson
President considered Father of the Constitution: James Madison
Father and Son Presidents: John Adams + John Quincy Adam, George H. W. Bush + George W. Bush
Grandfather and Grandson Presidents: William Harrison and Benjamin Harrison
Only President with two non-consecutive terms: Grover Cleveland (22nd and 24th President of the US).
First Democratic Party President: Thomas Jefferson (although technically he was a Democratic-Republican). Andrew Jackson was the first to call himself a pure Democrat.
First Republican President: Abraham Lincoln
Presidents who died in office of natural causes: William Harrison, Zachary Taylor, Warren Harding and Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Presidents who were assassinated while in office: Abraham Lincoln, James Garfield, William McKinley and John F. Kennedy.
Presidents who resigned: Richard Nixon
Shortest term in office: William Harrison (31 days)
Number of Presidents sworn into office: 43
Total number of Presidents: 44
Last Federalist President: John Adams
Last Whig President: Millard Fillmore
Impeached Presidents: Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton
Longest Serving President: Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1933-1945 – Four Terms)
Median age of accession: 54 years and 11 months
Youngest President to take office: Theodore Roosevelt (42 years, 322 days)
Youngest Elected President: John F. Kennedy (43 years, 236 days)
Oldest President to take office: Ronald Reagan (69 years, 349 days)
President with the longest lifespan: Gerald Ford (93 years, 165 days)
Oldest Living President: George H. W. Bush (85 years +)
Most Common profession of US Presidents: Lawyer (20 altogether)
Only Bachelor President: James Buchanan
Only Engineering President: Herbert Hoover
Presidents who were Generals (or Brigadier Generals): George Washington, Andrew Jackson, William Harrison, Zachary Taylor, Franklin Pierce, Andrew Johnson, Ulysses Grant, Rutherford Hayes, James Garfield, Chester Arthur, Benjamin Harrison, Dwight Eisenhower
Presidents who taught school: James Garfield, Chester Arthur, Grover Cleveland, Lyndon Johnson
Presidents with a Navy background: Theodore Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush (navy pilot – youngest during WWII – age 19)
Only Actor President: Ronald Reagan. President of Screen Actors Guild.
Presidents in the clothing industry: Andrew Johnson (tailor) and Harry Truman (owned a hat store)
President who was an architect: Thomas Jefferson
President who became chief Justice of the Supreme Court: William Howard Taft
Post World War II Presidents with no military experience: Bill Clinton and Barack Obama
President with the Most Children: John Tyler (15 children – 8 with his first wife and 7 with his second wife).
President who used the veto the most: Franklin Delano Roosevelt (635 vetoes – the next is Grover Cleveland with 584, followed by Harry Truman with 250). Grover Cleveland holds the record for the most vetoes in a single session – 414.
Presidents who used the veto the least: John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, John Quincy Adams, William Harrison, Zachary Taylor, Millard Fillmore and James Garfield. All of these presidents never used the veto. George W. Bush never used the veto once in his first term
President who had the greatest percentage of vetoes overridden: George W. Bush (33%). The president with the greatest number of overrides by Congress though is Andrew Johnson with 15.
Only Child born in the White House: Esther Cleveland – daughter of Grover Cleveland (born September 9th, 1893).
Three Presidents who married in office: John Tyler, Woodrow Wilson and Grover Cleveland
Only President to serve without being elected to the presidency or vice presidency: Gerald Ford
Only President to Finish Third in a Second Term Election: William Taft. He ran third behind Woodrow Wilson (Democrat) and Theodore Roosevelt (Bull Moose) in 1912.
President during Mexican-American War: James Polk
President during Spanish-American War: William McKinley
President during WWI: Woodrow Wilson
President during WWII: Franklin Roosevelt
Presidents during Korean War: Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower
Presidents during Vietnam War: Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon
President during First Gulf War: George H.W. Bush
President during Second Gulf War: George H.W. Bush and Barack Obama
President elected to House of Representatives after term: John Quincy Adams (was also the defence lawyer in Amistad Case).
President elected to Senate after term: Andrew Johnson
President during Stock Market Crash (1929): Herbert Hoover
Four Presidents who won the Electoral College Vote but not the popular vote – (winner of popular vote is shown alongside in brackets):
John Quincy Adams (Andrew Jackson) in 1824
Rutherford Hayes (Samuel Tilden) in 1876
Benjamin Harrison (Grover Cleveland) in 1888
George W. Bush (Al Gore) in 2000.
President at the time of Alaska purchase from Russia: Andrew Johnson
President at the time of Louisiana purchase from France: Thomas Jefferson
Only President not to represent a political party: George Washington
First president to reside in the White House: John Adams
Two presidents who died on the same day: John Adams and Thomas Jefferson (1826 – 50th Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence)
Shortest President: James Madison 5ft 4 inches
First President born in a log cabin: Andrew Jackson (Old Hickory). The last president was James Garfield.
First President to give a speech on TV: Harry Truman

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Canadian History - Quick Facts

I prepared this for my Reach for the Top Students. Others may find it useful.

First PM: John A. Macdonald (Conservative)
Second PM: Alexander Mackenzie (Liberal)
Prime Minister during Boer War: Wilfred Laurier (Liberal)
First francophone PM: Wilfred Laurier
PM during WWI: Robert Borden (Conservative/Unionist)
Longest serving PM: William Lyon Mackenzie King (22 years in total)
PM during WWII: William Lyon Mackenzie King (Liberal)
PM to win Nobel Peace Prize: Lester Pearson (Liberal – UN peacekeeping)
Youngest Canadian PM: Joe Clark (age 39) (Progressive Conservative)
Total Number of Canadian Prime Ministers: 22
First and only Female PM: Kim Campbell (Progressive Conservative -1993)
PM during Great Depression: Richard Bennett of Bennett Buggy Fame.
Oldest Canadian PM: Charles Tupper (Age 74)

Issues Associated with John A. MacDonald: Creation of North-West Mounted Police, Red River Rebellion, Hanging of Louis Riel, North-West Rebellion, Pacific Scandal, Confederation of British Colombia, National Policy (Economics)

Issues Associated with Alexander Mackenzie: Pacific Scandal, Creation of the Supreme Court, Creator of Post of Auditor-General, Creation of Royal Military College

Main Issue Associated with PM’s Thompson, Bowell, Tupper (all Torys):Manitoba School Question

Issues Associated with Wilfred Laurier: Manitoba School Question, Boer War, Confederation of Alberta and Saskatchwan, Creation of Royal Canadian Navy, Reciprocity with the US. Laurier was PM at the turn of the century. He said that the 20th century belongs to Canada.

Issues Associated with Robert BordenL: WWI , Conscription Crisis (1917), Introduction of Income Tax Act, Military Wserfvice Act, Winnipeg General Strike, Creation of National Research Council, Nickle Resolution.

Issues associated with Mackenzie King: Creation of CBC, Nationalization of Bank of Canada, Trans-Canada Airlines, WWII

Issues associated with Louis St. Laurent (Liberal) (1948-1957): NATO and the UN, Suez Crisis, London Declaration, Newfoundland Act, Equalization, Trans-Canada Highway, Trans-Canada-Pipeline.

Issues Associated with John Diefenbaker (Progressive Conservative) (1957-1963): Avro Arrow cancellation, Cuban missile crisis, Canadian Bill of Rights

Issues Associated with Lester Pearson (1963-1968): Introduction of Universal Healthcare, Creation of a New Canadian Flag, Canada student loans, Canada Pension Plan, Creation of Canadian Forces, Auto Pact, Bormarc missile program. No to troops in Vietnam.

Issues associated with Pierre Elliot Trudeau (Liberal) (1968-1979), (1980-1984): Just Society, October Crisis (FLQ) , War Measures Act, Official Languages Act, Repatriation of the Constitution, Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Access to Information Act, 1980 Referendum, Western alienation, National Energy Program (NEP)

Issues Associated with John Turner (Liberal) (1984): Trudeau patronage appointments

Issues Associated with Brian Mulroney (Progressive Conservative) (1984-1993): Cancellation of NEP, Meech Lake Accord, Charlettown Accord, Canada-US Free Trade, NAFTA, GST, First Gulf War, Environmental Protection Act, Oka Crisis, Petro-Canada Privatization, Airbus Affair (Karl-Heinz Schreiber)

Issues Associated with Kim Campbell (Progressive Conservative)(1993): Somalia debacle.

Issues Associated with Jean Chretien (Liberal) (1993-2003):
Red Book (Economics), HST, Clarity Act, Kosovo War, Red River Flood, Creation of Nunavut Territory, Youth Criminal Justice Act, Helicopter Crisis, Opposition to invasion of Iraq, Invasion of Afghanistan, Shawinigan handshake, APEC Summit Crisis, 1995 Referendum.

Issues Associated with Paul Martin (Liberal) (2003-2006): Sponsorship Inquiry, Gomery Inquiry, Civil Marriage Act, Kelowna Accord, Rejection of US Anti-Missile Treaty, Formation of G20, Atlantic Accord.

Issues Associated with Stephen Harper (Conservative) (2006-)
GST reduction, Apology for Chinese Head Tax, Afghan Mission Extension, Quebecois nation motion, Veteran’s Bill of Rights, Residential Schools Apology, Federal Accountability Act.

A Few Important Figures in Canadian Politics (who were not PMs)

Ed Broadbent – Influential former NDP Federal Leader. Human Rights Champion.
George Etienne Cartier – Leading 19th century francophone politician at the time of Confederation. (Minister of Defence in Macdonald government).
Tommy Douglas – Saskatchewan Premier. Father of Universal Healthcare. Voted Greatest Canadian ion a recent poll.
Maurice Duplessis – Anti-Communist Premier of Quebec. Led the Union Nationale Party. Opposed military conscription and Canada’s role in WWII. Padlock Laws.
Frank McKenna – Highly acclaimed former New Brunswick Premier. Former Canadian Ambassador to the US.
Preston Manning – Former Head of the Reform Party. Son of Ernest Manning. Opponent of Brian Mulroney.
Joseph Papineau – Influential francophone politician in Lower Canada. Championed Jewish citizen rights.
Louis-Joseph Papineau – Son of Joseph Papineau. Leader of Patriotes. Fled to the US. Involved in 1837 Rebellion against the British.
Robert Stanfield – Former Progressive Conservative Party leader and opponent of Pierre Trudea. Served as premier of Nova Scotia as well.
Joey Smallwood – Premier of Newfoundland. Brought Province into Confederation in 1949.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Fall of the Berlin Wall

Nov. 9 marks the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Noel D. Cary, professor of German and European history, shares his thoughts on this historical event.

The Berlin Wall fell during my first semester of teaching at Holy Cross. During my job interview the previous spring, the dynamic chair of the history department, Professor William Green, asked what appeared to be an over-the-top question: What did I think the West Germans would do if Gorbachev offered to tear down the Wall in exchange for Germany abandoning the Western alliance? Some maneuver of that sort was just about the extent of what was even imaginable at the time.

What many people no longer remember is what a huge surprise all these events were. Nowadays, many students are inclined to think that the fall of communism was inevitable. That’s not at all how these events felt at the time. I remember driving home after a long day of teaching my first classes that autumn and hearing on the radio that the entire East German Politburo had just resigned. This was an absolutely electrifying event, an event that no one expected. 1989 was a year filled with such events, each one more surprising than the one before.

The speed of communism’s collapse sometimes misleads young people into thinking that the Cold War was not about anything real. The dogmatic ideological militancy of the communist movement, and the heavy price in human rights that it demanded from the human beings it affected, should warn us to think twice before accepting such a view. The death toll from self-consciously executed communist policies numbers conservatively in the tens of millions. Nevertheless, the anticommunist excesses that sometimes marked the Cold War seem to be better known among today’s students than do the far greater excesses of the communists. Most students know much more about McCarthyism than they do about the Cultural Revolution. Some confuse liberalism’s imperfections with communism’s norms. Knowing too that the infamous dominoes eventually fell in reverse, many people read the outcome back into the events and conclude by debunking the concerns of the contemporaries.

Historians, however, must always contextualize. When they do, what emerges is the combination of policies and people that made the fall of the Wall possible. It is a complex and contested story — far too complex and contested to be summarized here. Among its clearest lessons, however, is this one: Far from being inevitable, the fall of communism was a profile in the courage of those men and women who dared, in the words of the Czech dissident playwright and statesman Vaclav Havel, to deploy “the power of the powerless.”

Source: Holy Cross

Vasili Mikhailovich Blokhin - Mass Murderer

Vasili Mikhailovich Blokhin (1895 – February 1955) was a Soviet Major-General who served as the chief executioner of the Stalinist NKVD under the administrations of Genrikh Yagoda, Nikolai Yezhov and Lavrenty Beria. Hand-picked for the position by Joseph Stalin in 1926, Blokhin led a company of executioners that performed the majority of executions carried out during Stalin's reign (most during the Great Purge). Claims by the Soviet government put the number of NKVD official executions at 828,000 during Stalin's reign,[1] and Blokhin is recorded as having personally executed tens of thousands of prisoners by his own hand over a 26-year period—including 7,000 condemned Polish POWs in one protracted mass execution[1][2]—making him ostensibly the most prolific official executioner in recorded world history.[1] He was awarded both the Order of the Badge of Honor (1937) and the Order of the Red Banner (1941).

Blokhin, born into a Russian peasant family, had served in the Tsarist army of World War I, and had joined the Cheka in March 1921. Though records are slim, he was evidently noted for both his pugnaciousness and his mastery of what Stalin termed "black work"; assassinations, torture, intimidation, and execution conducted clandestinely. Once he caught Stalin's eye, he was quickly promoted and within six years was appointed the head of the purpose-created Kommandatura Branch of the Administrative Executive Department of the NKVD. This branch was a company-sized element created by Stalin specifically for "black work" missions. Headquartered at the Lubyanka in Moscow, they were all approved by Stalin and took their orders directly from his hand, a fact that ensured the unit's longevity despite three bloody purges of the NKVD. As senior executioner,[4] Blokhin's official title was that of Commandant of the internal prison at the Lubyanka, which allowed him to perform his true job with a minimum of scrutiny and no official paperwork.

Although most common executions were delegated to local Chekists or subordinate executioners from his unit, Blokhin personally performed all of the high-profile executions conducted in the Soviet Union during his tenure, including those of the Old Bolsheviks condemned at the Moscow Show Trials and two of the three fallen NKVD Chiefs (Yagoda in 1938 and Yezhov in 1940) he had once served under.[5] He was awarded the Badge of Honor for his service in 1937.[6]

Blokhin's most notable performance was the April 1940 mass execution by shooting of 7,000 Polish officers, captured following the Soviet invasion of Poland, from the Ostashkov POW camp, during the Katyn massacre.[7] Based on the 4 April secret order from Stalin to NKVD Chief Lavrenti Beria (as well as NKVD Order № 00485, which still applied), the executions were carried out in 28 consecutive nights at the specially-constructed basement execution chamber at the NKVD headquarters in Kalinin (now Tver), and were assigned, by name, directly to Blokhin, making him the official executioner of the NKVD.[8]

Blokhin initially decided on an ambitious quota of 300 executions per night, and engineered an efficient system in which the prisoners were individually led to a small antechamber—which had been painted red and was known as the "Leninist room"—for a brief and cursory positive identification, before being handcuffed and led into the execution room next door. The room was specially designed with padded walls for soundproofing, a sloping concrete floor with a drain and hose, and a log wall for the prisoners to stand against. Blokhin—outfitted in a leather butcher's apron, cap, and shoulder-length gloves to protect his uniform[9]—then pushed the prisoner against the log wall and shot him once in the base of the skull with a German Walther Model 2 .25 ACP pistol.[10] He had brought a briefcase full of his own Walther pistols, since he did not trust the reliability of the standard-issue Soviet TT-30 for the frequent, heavy use he intended.[9][11] The use of a German pocket pistol, which was commonly carried by Nazi intelligence agents, also provided plausible deniability of the executions if the bodies were discovered later.

Between 20 to 30 local NKVD agents, guards and drivers were pressed into service to escort prisoners to the basement, confirm identification, then remove the bodies and hose down the blood after each execution. Although some of the executions were carried out by Senior Lieutenant of State Security Andrei M. Rubanov, Blokhin was the primary executioner and, true to his reputation, liked to work continuously and rapidly without interruption.[9] In keeping with NKVD policy and the overall "black" nature of the operation, the executions were conducted at night, starting at dark and continuing until just prior to dawn. The initial quota of 300 was lowered by Blokhin to 250 after the first night, when it was decided that all further executions should take place in total darkness.[5] The bodies were continuously loaded onto covered flat-bed trucks through a back door in the execution chamber and trucked, twice a night, to Mednoye, where Blokhin had arranged for a bulldozer and two NKVD drivers to dispose of bodies at an unfenced site. Each night, 24 to 25 trenches, measuring eight to ten meters total, were dug to hold the night's corpses, and each trench was covered up before dawn.[12] Blokhin and his team worked without pause for ten hours each night, with Blokhin executing an average of one prisoner every three minutes.[2] At the end of the night, Blokhin provided vodka to all his men.[13]

On 27 April 1940, Blokhin secretly received the Order of the Red Banner and a modest monthly pay premium as a reward from Joseph Stalin for his "skill and organization in the effective carrying out of special tasks".[14][15] His count of 7,000 shot in 28 days remains one of the most organized and protracted mass murders by a single individual on record.[6]

Blokhin was forcibly retired following Stalin's death, although his "irreproachable service" was publicly noted by Lavrenty Beria at the time of his departure.[6] After Beria's fall from power (June 1953), Blokhin's rank was eventually stripped from him in the de-Stalinization campaigns of Nikita Khrushchev. He reportedly sunk into alcoholism, went insane, and died in February 1955 with the official cause of death listed as "suicide".[7]


Sunday, October 18, 2009

History in the News

Buffalo Soldiers gather to remember
They fought bravely for the US despite the discrimination that they faced

US Debt reaches historical high
9.1 trillion over the next decade...that is simply insane.

Mini-Colosseum Unearthed near Rome
Must of been the home ground for the reserve team.

Nero's fabled banqueting hall discovered
Apparently he didn't enjoy the hall for two long. It was completed in the same year that he was overthrown and then committed suicide.

John Brown - 150 Years Later
Brown's famous raid on Harper's Ferry will be re-enacted this weekend.

Jewish Culture in Medieval Spain
Article explodes the myth of Muslim tolerance of Judaism in Spain.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Decline of British History in Education

Source: Telegraph
Author: Dominic Sandbrook

In April 1942, the Luftwaffe launched a series of night bombing raids against the historic cathedral cities of Exeter, Bath, Norwich, York and Canterbury. The targets had been picked out of the Baedeker Guide to Britain, not because they were militarily important or commanded crucial transport routes, but because they represented something vaguer but more profound.

The Nazis' aim was to smash Britain's moral and historical heritage – and, of course, they failed. More than 1,500 people were killed, but York Minister and Canterbury Cathedral still stood proud and unbowed amid the flames, symbolising the long centuries of England's past. Not even the might of the Nazi empire, it seemed, could break the thread of our national history.

What a tragic irony, then, that where Hitler's bombers failed, a generation of home-grown political meddlers and "progressive" educationalists have succeeded all too well. For to anyone with even a passing interest in the teaching, reading and writing of our national past, the Historical Association's massive new survey on history teaching in secondary schools reads like the report of some callous, devastating military barbarism.

Across the board, history teaching is in retreat. Seven out of ten teenagers say they enjoy the subject, yet barely three out of 10 study it to GCSE level. Among younger children, the hours set aside for history are being slashed to make way for supposedly vocational subjects. And almost unbelievably, 12-year-olds in half of Tony Blair's beloved academies study history for just one hour – one! – a week.

An entire generation, in other words, is leaving school ignorant of what their parents and grandparents once took for granted: the solid, reassuring knowledge of what we all once recognised as our national story.

Terrible as they are, the Historical Association's figures come as little surprise. A few years ago, when I was a lecturer at one of northern England's biggest redbrick universities, I quickly realised that it was a mistake to assume any prior knowledge of British history on the part of our 18-year-old students. Most had studied the Nazis and the American civil rights movement in great detail at A-level, but few had heard of, say, David Lloyd George or Stanley Baldwin, or could explain why Britain had won and lost a global empire.

They were bright and keen to learn, but had been betrayed by a system that fed them titbits of knowledge, and by a culture of continuous testing that left little time to appreciate the broad sweep of our national past. But by today's standards, they were lucky. For as the Historical Association points out, if the trend continues, history may well decline into virtual irrelevance as a school subject, overtaken by Media Studies and Beauty Therapy.

It is too easy to blame the students, who find themselves under intense pressure to get the best possible grades for their university applications – which inevitably means that they pick subjects that are seen as "easier" or that offer more "value". And it is too easy, I think, to blame their teachers.

Whenever I give sixth-form talks, whether in private or state schools, I am always struck by the sheer love of history shown by most teachers, whose attitudes often put academics themselves to shame. Only a few weeks ago, giving a lecture to a talented and engaging group of A-level students on the Isle of Man, I felt almost humbled by the enterprise and sheer commitment of their history teachers, a husband-and-wife team who might have been an advertisement for education as one of life's most enriching vocations.

But there is no doubt that something has gone badly wrong when seven out of 10 schoolchildren are no longer studying history at the age of 16, when two out of 10 think Britain was once occupied by the Spanish, and when some identify Sir Winston Churchill as the first man on the moon. And the blame lies at the very top, shared by politicians of both parties, who have been systematically cheating and betraying our children since the 1980s.

During the Thatcher years, it was meddling from the top that downgraded history from a compulsory to an optional subject at the age of 16 – which, because it was seen as "difficult", made it easy pickings for Mickey Mouse subjects such as Beauty Therapy. It was supposedly "progressive" interference, meanwhile, that did away with old-fashioned essay questions and replaced them with empathy exercises and multiple-choice quizzes that sacrificed any sense of intellectual depth or discipline.

And perhaps above all, it was in Westminster and Whitehall that officials designed our absurd Yo! Sushi approach to history, in which schools randomly pick unrelated historical topics like saucers from a conveyor belt, instead of studying our national story as a continuous narrative, which is how any sensible person sees it.

What makes this betrayal all the more depressing is that in society at large there is clearly such an eager appetite for historical narrative. Even now, 20 years after I was forced to do empathy exercises ("Imagine you are a housewife in Hamburg in 1932 …") as part of my history GCSE lessons, British readers devour more popular history than almost any other nation, helping to keep Andrew Roberts in silk pyjamas and Simon Schama in leather jackets.

With almost four million members happily forking out to visit its country houses, castles, factories and workhouses, the National Trust is the biggest membership organisation in the country. Even the latest Booker shortlist reflects our deep shared thirst for history, from A S Byatt's lovingly evoked Edwardian social landscape to Sarah Waters's haunting recreation of Attlee's Britain and Hilary Mantel's coruscating portraits of Thomas Cromwell and Henry VIII. And, of course, it was the readers of this very paper who contributed £25,000 to the reprint of H E Marshall's Our Island Story, the children's history of England first published in 1905 that still gives a more entertaining overall account of our national story than most modern textbooks, even if it is a bit dated.

Any sensible government, recognising the extent of the popular enthusiasm for history, would have intervened long ago to restore the subject as a central, compulsory element of the national curriculum. Instead, Labour have flapped and floundered, bleating about Britishness lessons and citizenship classes instead of doing the one thing guaranteed to inculcate a sense of community and identity: teaching children their national history.

One reason that America has proved so successful as a melting pot for immigrants, after all, is that its schools give their children a solid and reassuring sense of themselves as Americans, embedded in a shared national past which is studded with patriotic landmarks from the Declaration of Independence to the Gettysburg Address. And we have only to look across the Irish Sea, where schools in the Republic patiently trace their national story from Ireland's first Christian missionaries to its bloody struggle for independence, to see that teaching your national history from start to finish is hardly rocket science. Nor is it necessarily reactionary or old-fashioned or even conservative, as its critics suggest. It is simply common sense.

"The past is a foreign country," L P Hartley famously wrote at the beginning of his great novel The Go-Between. "They do things differently there." Exploring that vast and impossibly rich continent ought to be one of the most exciting intellectual adventures in any boy or girl's lifetime: a chance not just to tread the fields of Hastings or Bosworth, or to see Shakespeare and Milton at work, but to encounter an enormously, uproariously diverse range of characters, to make lifelong acquaintances, to draw lessons and parallels, to meet humanity in the raw.

In any sane and decent society, that journey ought to be the centrepiece of the education system, a long and thoughtful expedition, not a botched and half-hearted day-trip to which most children are no longer invited. And one day, I suspect, we will look back and judge that our Government's ignorance and neglect of that wonderful, dazzling, irresistible country was among the greatest of its failures and the most unforgivable of its many betrayals.

Friday, September 11, 2009

20 Key Events in the Neurosciences

1. Mapping of the Human Cortex.
2. Discovery of the roles of the Medulla Oblangata and the Cerebellum in brain functioning.
3. Invention of the CAT and PET Scans as well as the NMR for brain observation.
4. Discovery of the Brain Wave and the Invention of the EEG.
5. Elucidation of the process of information flow through the visual cortex.
6. Understanding of the Pain pathway through the Central Nervous system.
7. Identification of Broca and Werniecke region for Speech and Language Processing.
8. The discovery of neurotransmitter chemicals such as Dopamine and Seritonin.
9. Discovery of the pineal controlled biological clock mechanism.
10.Identification of the physiological nature of depression, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Mania and other forms of mental illness.
11. The Establishment of Psychology as a science outside the realm of philosophy.
12. Birth of the science of psychopharmacology. Includes the development of Anti-Depressants, SSRIs and Barbiturates.
13. Development of the Science of Psychoanalysis.
14. Discovery of the conditioned reflex response.
15. Understanding of the different types of sleep. Includes the discovery and analysis of Rem Sleep. Birth of Dream Therapy.
16. Birth of the discipline of Behaviorism.
17. Carl Jung develops the concept of the Collective Conscious/Unconscious.
18. Development of the Science of Personality study, an outflow of Carl Jung's work.
19. Birth of the science of Psychometrics includes the testing of intelligence and learning.
20. Development of Gestalt Therapy.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Inflation and the Fall of the Roman Empire

by Joseph Peden

Two centuries ago, in 1776, there were two books published in England, both of which are read avidly today. One of them was Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations and the other was Edward Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Gibbon's multivolume work is the tale of a state that survived for twelve centuries in the West and for another thousand years in the East, at Constantinople.

Gibbon, in looking at this phenomenon, commented that the wonder was not that the Roman Empire had fallen, but rather that it had lasted so long. And scholars since Gibbon have devoted a great deal of energy to examining that problem: How was it that the Roman Empire lasted so long? And did it decline, or was it simply transformed into something else (that something else being the European civilization of which we are the heirs)?

I've been asked to speak on the theme of Roman history, particularly the problem of inflation and its impact. My analysis is based on the premise that monetary policy cannot be studied, or understood, in isolation from the overall policies of the state.

Monetary, fiscal, military, political, and economic issues are all very much intertwined. And they are all so intertwined because any state normally seeks to monopolize the supply of money within its own territory.

Monetary policy therefore always serves, even if it serves badly, the perceived needs of the rulers of the state. If it also happens to enhance the prosperity and progress of the masses of the people, that is a secondary benefit; but its first aim is to serve the needs of the rulers, not the ruled. This point is central, I believe, to an understanding of the course of monetary policy in the late Roman Empire.

We may begin by looking at the mentality of the rulers of the Roman Empire, beginning at the end of the 2nd century AD and looking through to the end of the 3rd century AD. Roman historians refer to this period as the "Crisis of the 3rd Century." And the reason is that the problems of the Roman society in that period were so profound, so enormous, that Roman society emerged from the 3rd century very different in almost all ways from what it had been in the 1st and 2nd centuries

To look at the mentality of the Roman emperors, we can look just at the advice that the Emperor Septimius Severus gave to his two sons, Caracalla and Geta. This is supposed to be his final words to his heirs. He said, "live in harmony; enrich the troops; ignore everyone else." Now, there is a monetary policy to be marveled at!

Caracalla did not adhere to the first part of that advice; in fact, one of his first acts was to murder his brother. But as for enriching the troops, he took that so seriously to heart that his mother remonstrated with him and urged him to be more moderate and to restrain his increasing military expenditures and burdensome new taxes. He responded by saying there was no longer any revenue, just or unjust, to be found. But not to worry, "for as long as we have this," he insisted, pointing to his sword, "we shall not run short of money."

His sense of priorities was made more explicit when he remarked, "nobody should have any money but I, so that I may bestow it upon the soldiers." And he was as good as his word. He raised the pay of the soldiers by 50 percent, and to achieve this he doubled the inheritance taxes paid by Roman citizens. When this was not sufficient to meet his needs, he admitted almost every inhabitant of the empire to Roman citizenship. What had formerly been a privilege now became simply a means of expanding the tax base.

He then went further by proceeding to debase the coinage. The basic coinage of the Roman Empire to this time — we're speaking now about 211 AD — was the silver denarius introduced by Augustus at about 95 percent silver at the end of the 1st century BC. The denarius continued for the better part of two centuries as the basic medium of exchange in the empire.

By the time of Trajan in 117 AD, the denarius was only about 85 percent silver, down from Augustus's 95 percent. By the age of Marcus Aurelius, in 180, it was down to about 75 percent silver. In Septimius's time it had dropped to 60 percent, and Caracalla evened it off at 50/50.

For the rest go to the Source

Some World War II Updates

Looking for Remains of the War Dead
I was surprised to find out that there were 74,000 missing American servicemen from WWII.

Pope decries Holocaust
But will he admit that the Vatican should have taken a stronger stance against Nazism during the War?If Pius XII had issued a Bull arguing that anyone who supported the anti-semitism of the Nazis (or any of their other genocidal policies) was a disgrace to the religion it may have reduced the grass roots collaboration that facilitated the Nazi driven holocaust.

Wars of Choice and Wars of Necessity
A good boost in an era when so many seem to have forgotten the reason why Hitler had to be stopped.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Great Rivals in History

I just finished reading an incredible book by Joseph Cummins on some of the Great Rivalries in History. The work is detailed and easy to read and is available at Amazon. (isn't everything).

Rivalries documented are:

Alexander the Great and Darius III
Hannibal vs Scipio Africanus
Juilius Caesar vs Pompeius
King Henry II vs Thomas Becket
Richard I vs John
Pope Boniface VIII vs Philip IV
Pizarro vs De Almagro (Conquistadors)
Elizabeth I vs Mary Queen of Scots
Charles XII vs Peter the Great
Benedict Arnold vs Horatio Gates
Aaron Burr vs Alexander Hamilton
Napoleon vs Wellington
Earol of Lucan vs Earl of Cardigan (Crimean War)
Disraeli vs Gladstone
Pancho Villa vs Emiliano Zapata (Mexico)
Hitler vs Rohm
Stalin vs Trotsky
Chiang Kai-Shek vs Mao
Chuikov vs Paulus (Battle of Stalingrad)
Patton vs Montgomery
Truman vs Macarthur
Giap vs De Casteries (Battle of Dien Bien Phu)
Kennedy vs Nixon

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

An Amazing Military History Website

This site has exactly what I crave in a history source...detail. On top of that it is extremely well organized.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Storm of War by Andrew Roberts

Looking forward to reading this book.........

I have posted a review with its link.

The Second World War was undoubtedly the greatest conflict in history and probably the worst single catastrophe the human race has suffered. For people today, 70 years after the start of that conflict, it is almost impossible to imagine the scale of the war. Some 50 million people were killed between 1939 and 1945 – or, to put it another way, one person every four seconds for six long years. In the west, where the Nazis controlled an area twice the size of the Roman Empire, the fighting took place almost everywhere from the northernmost tip of Finland to the edges of the Sahara Desert. In the Far East, it raged from China all the way to the shores of Australia, as the Japanese conquered more than 32 million square miles of the Earth’s surface. There was barely a man, woman or child on this planet who was not affected.

Source: Storm

Harry Patch, last British WWI soldier, dies at 111

LONDON — Harry Patch, the last British army veteran of World War I, has died at 111, the nursing home where he lived said Saturday.

The Fletcher House care home in Wells, southwest England, said Patch died early Saturday.

He just quietly slipped away at 9 a.m. this morning," said care home manager Andrew Larpent. "It was how he would have wanted it, without having to be moved to hospitals but here, peacefully with his friends and carers."

Source: Patch

Dreyfus in Rehearsal

One of the first plays I reviewed was "Dreyfus in Rehearsal," which was about a troup of amateur actors in a small town in Poland rehearsing a play about the Dreyfus Affair, about which they knew surprisingly little. The action takes place in 1931 when flames of anti-semitism are being fanned all over Europe.

That original production, which opened in the fall of 1974, starred Sam Levene and Ruth Gordon. It had an actor named Allan Arbus (who, though he had a very strong career, will probably always be better known as the husband of Diane.) It also had a young actress named Tovah Feldshuh.

"Dreyfus" was produced by David Merrick, part of a long collaboration he had with writer/director Garson Kanin, who adapted the play from the French of a playwright named Jean-Claude Grumberg. I don't remember what I wrote 35 years ago, but I do remember praising the drop curtain by Boris Aronson in the style of Marc Chagall, a poetic evocation of the richness and tenuousness of European Jewish life. Like the sets for most flops ("Dreyfus" barely ran two weeks), I suspect it was just taken out and burned. Today there would be any number of museums thrilled to have it.

Source: Dreyfus

End of an Era: Mississippi Steamboats

The overnight steamboat, a majestic feature of the Mississippi since before the days of Mark Twain, has been forced off the river by the current recession after nearly two centuries of continuous service on the river.

This year, there are no river boats offering Mississippi cruises that come with night cabins and last more than a few hours.

It was in 1811 that the New Orleans, the first steamboat in western waters, was piloted down the Mississippi. For nearly two centuries, steamboats plied the waters from St Paul, Minnesota down to New Orleans. During the late 19th Century, there were some 10,000 of them.

But the last remaining successors of the storied vessels that Twain, himself a riverboat pilot, immortalised in his 1883 work Life on the Mississippi, are now out of commission and may never again leave their berths.

Source: Mississippi

Ancient Ruins uncovered in Lebanon

BEIRUT, Aug. 6 (Xinhua) -- A British Museum delegation have excavated a large number of valuable ruins in an archaeological site in Sidon, south Lebanon, which date back to the Canaanite period of Sidon, one of the world's oldest continuously inhabited cities, local Daily Star reported on its website Thursday.

"We uncovered the biggest number of ruins this year and this helped complete the cycle of historic periods discovered in the site," Dr. Claude Doumit Serhal, head of the British delegation, was quoted by the paper as saying.

The delegation, consisting of 90 Lebanese and foreign professionals, uncovered this week 13 burial sites, temples and personal items, which "reveals the religious rituals and lifestyle during the Canaanite period (3,500 BC - 1,150 BC)," according to Serhal.

Source: Lebanon

The Roots of Beer in Ancient History

Beer is one of the oldest foodstuffs produced by human beings; it shows up in written history as early as 6000 B.C. Ancient Sumerians actually developed a prayer to the goddess Ninkasi that doubled as a beer recipe. This prayer is the oldest surviving beer recipe in existence.

The discovery of beer was probably an accident, with some wild, airborne yeasts interacting with stored barley and then spontaneously fermenting. Beer quickly grew to become an important part of many developing cultures. Anthropologists have uncovered evidence dating back to 3000 B.C. that in ancient Iraq, each city-state had its own brewmaster who was responsible for all of the beer production in that city.

For the rest go to Beer

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Ranking of Secretary of States (US)

(In brackets is the President they served under)

I have some reservations about this list but its worth looking at:

1. William Seward(Lincoln)
2. George Marshall(Truman)
3. Thomas Jefferson(Washington)
4. John Q Adams(Monroe)
5. Henry Kissinger(Nixon,Ford)
6. Colin Powell(George W Bush) - seems too high
7. Condi Rice (George W Bush) - way too high
8. James Madison(Jefferson)
9. James Monroe (Madison)
10. Madelaine Albright(Clinton) - too high
11. Daniel Webster(Harrison,Tyler, Filmore)
12. George Shultz(Reagan) - too low
13. Henry Clay (John Q Adams)
14. James Baker (Bush I)
15. John Hay (T Roosevelt)
16. Dean Rusk(Kennedy)
17. John Foster Dulles(Eisenhower)
18. Dean Acheson(Truman)
19. Cordell Hull(FDR)
20. Hilary Clinton (Obama) - yeah right

Ranking of Britain's Prime Ministers since 1940

According to BBC Newsnight Poll 2008 (27,000 people responded)

1. Winston Churchill
2. Margaret Thatcher
3. Clement Attlee
4. Harold Macmillan
5. Harold Wilson
6. Tony Blair
7. Edward Heath
8. John Major
9. James Callaghan
10. Alec Douglas-Home
11. Anthony Eden
12. Gordon Brown

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Worst Speech of All-Time

by Daniel Dale

There are product failures and there is New Coke. There are bad movies and there is Plan 9 From Outer Space. And there are bad presidential speeches and there is Jimmy Carter's "malaise" speech, the July 15, 1979 address so legendarily horrendous it still elicits disdainful superlatives on the week of its 30-year anniversary.

"This is a speech I consider one of the worst speeches in the history of the presidency," says Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania. "There are many pedestrian speeches. You can say, `Well, they're just bad speeches.' No, they're pedestrian speeches; they're not bad, they're just ordinary. This speech actually has serious inherent rhetorical failures. Usually speechwriters protect a president from that."

It eloquently illuminated complicated problems, then offered no actual solutions. It directly criticized average folks but only indirectly criticized their flawed president.

It was, many scholars of political rhetoric say, an epic, perhaps unprecedented disaster. Mary Stuckey, professor of political science and communication at Georgia State University, says the only speech she can think of that may rival its dreadfulness is Bill Clinton's lying "I did not have sexual relations" address of 1998. That one, of course, came at a pressure-packed press conference amidst a scandal.

For the rest go to the Toronto Star

The Real Tragedy of Vietnam

by Conrad Black

The death of former U. S. defence secretary Robert S. McNamara has caused a good deal of retrospective comment regarding his influence on American defence and strategic policy in the 1960s, and especially the Vietnam War. In writing on the subject for last Saturday's National Post, I found myself with more material than I could get into a single column. What follows below picks up on Saturday's effort.

The horrible nightmare of Vietnam was a long time coming. Franklin D. Roosevelt, unlike Winston Churchill and Charles de Gaulle, knew that Western colonial empires couldn't last, and was afraid the communists would take over of much of them, exploiting discontent against the colonial occupiers. He proposed a scheme whereby power in these areas would be administered in the name of the United Nations, until the territories met agreed criteria for self-government. Britain, France and the lesser empires would not hear of it. No substitute plan emerged, and there were endless colonial wars in Indochina, Kenya, Algeria, Cyprus, Angola, Mozambique, Rhodesia, Malaya, the Congo and elsewhere --and prolonged disputes over the post-colonial borders, especially in the Middle East and the Indian sub-continent.

Roosevelt's successors, Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower, were not prepared to fight for the French colonial regime in Indochina. If there was ever a time for the United States to give battle there (and there probably wasn't), it was after France promised independence but was still prepared to fight Indochina's communists. It might have been possible to create a Korea-like coalition and replicate the success of the British and local anti-Communists in Malaya. But neither Eisenhower nor Churchill was prepared to do this in 1954, and Eisenhower was not even prepared to assist the French in escaping the debacle at Dien Bien Phu, which only required a little air transport and close air support to avoid. This, and the gratuitous U. S. response to the Anglo-French Suez shambles two years later, spelled virtually the end of the U. S.-French alliance until the Gulf War of 1991. Alliances are supposed to be reciprocal.

For the rest go to the National Post

Apollo Astronauts Bemoan Space Program

by Irene Klotz

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla., July 20 (Reuters) - The U.S. investment in the Apollo space program, which landed men on the moon, paid off handsomely, unlike the $100 billion plowed into the International Space Station, Apollo's pioneering astronauts said on Monday.

"We opened the door to future of exploration by touching down on another body," Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin, the second man to set foot on the moon, said at a press conference commemorating the 40th anniversary of the first moon landing.

The United States staged six successful missions to the moon between 1969 and 1972, then developed the space shuttles and later, the space station.

NASA is finishing construction of the station, a $100 billion project of 16 nations, and plans to retire the shuttle fleet next year. After that, the United States plans to pay Russia to ferry crews to the outpost, which orbits 225 miles (360 km) above Earth.

"We've spent a lot of money up there for almost nothing. It's almost a white elephant," Apollo 13 commander Jim Lovell said. "Until we can really get a return on our investment on that particular project, then it was money wasted."

The United States spent about $25 billion, in 1969 dollars, on the Apollo project. The investment, which consumed about 4 percent of the federal budget, was returned many times over, the astronauts said.

"We now seem to think it's too much to put 0.6 percent into the NASA budget," said Apollo 7 astronaut Walter Cunningham. "That is idiotic in my opinion."

"The investment that we made back in the 1960s was paid back. You got the return on the investment for the next 30 years. It was a driver of technology that really helped make us the leading, driving economic force of the world," he said.

"What are we doing today, what investment are we making today that will ensure that we have that kind of return for the next 30 years? I don't see it out there," he added.


For more go to Reuters

20 Greatest Swedes of All-Time

1. Carolus Linnaeus - Taxonomist.
2. Carl Wilhelm Scheele - Chemist (Swedish although born in Germany).
3. Alfred Nobel - Inventor of Dynamite. Began Nobel Prize.
4. Gustavus Adolphus - Swedish King and Military Innovator.
5. August Strindberg - Playwright.
6. Jons Berzellius - Chemist.
7. Svante Arrhenius - Chemist.
8. Axel Oxenstierna - Statesman.
9. Raoul Wallenberg - Diplomat and Humanitarian
10. Queen Christina - Monarch.
11. Emanuel Swedenborg - Philosopher.
12. Torsten Wiesel - Neurobiologist.
13. Theodor Svedberg - Physical Chemist.
14. Dag Hammarskjold - United Nations Secretary General.
15. Arne Tiselius - Biochemist.
16. Karl Branting - Politician And Diplomat.
17.Par Lagerkvist - Author, Poet and Playwright.
18. Nathan Soderblom - Theologian.
19. Gunnar Mydral - Economist.
20. Selma Lagerlof - Author.

South American History Key Events

1. European Invasion and the Subsequent Indian Genocide.
2. Creation of the vast Inca Empire.
3. Creation of Chibcha Empire.
4. Conversion of Indigenous South American population to Catholicism.
5. The Anti-Spanish Rebellions of Bolivar and San Martin.
6. The Granting of Independence to the South American countries in the 1820s and 1830s.
7. Discovery of vast tin and silver deposits in South America.
8. Early Colonization of South America possibly from a Polynesian source.
9. Pope divides South America between the Spanish and the Portuguese.
10. Don Pedro II becomes King of Brazil.
11. Bernardo O'Higgins rebels in Chile against the Spanish.
12. Black Slaves arrive in Brazil to work on the plantations.
13. Chaco War.
14. Beginning of the modern Deforestation of the Amazon.
15. Period of Juan Peron's rule in Argentina.
16. Period of the Vargas dictatorship in Brazil.
17.Splitting off of Panama from Columbia to create the Panama Canal.
18. Discovery of Oil in Venezuela.
19. Formation of the MERCOSUR trading group.
20. Menem introduces Fiscal conservatism into the Argentine economy.
21. British attack Buenos Aires in the 19th century.
22. The Period of the Dirty Wars in Argentina.
23. The Falkland War and the Collapse of the Ruling Junta in Argentina.
24. The Collapse of the Pinochet Regime in Chile in the 1990s.
25. The South American Foreign Debt crisis of the 80s.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

American History in the News

Fulton to celebrate Churchill

FULTON - Jefferson City is known as the Capital City, Columbia is known as the college town, and Fulton is known for -- Winston Churchill.
This weekend marks the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Iron Curtain. The very term "Iron Curtain" was first introduced by Winston Churchill in Fulton. His "Iron Curtain Speech" at Westminster College became famous in 1946.
For the rest go to Fulton

A Tribute to Teddy Roosevelt

It’s impossible to examine the life of Theodore Roosevelt and not feel a certain degree of envy. The man was so prodigious in his pursuits and accomplishments it humbles everyone who comes close. He wrote books seemingly at will, thirty-five in all, some even while he was serving as president. He traveled back and forth across the country and around the world like a modern day jet-setting businessperson—before jets were around, of course. He persevered through a catastrophic loss that could easily have crippled him emotionally for life. He single-handedly remade the biggest and possibly most corrupt police department in the country. He busted monopolies. He fought wars. He served two terms in the White House—then tried to run again. And, oh by the way, he saved 230 million acres of land for future generations. It’s impossible to examine the life of Theodore Roosevelt and not feel a certain degree of envy. The man was so prodigious in his pursuits and accomplishments it humbles everyone who comes close.
For the rest go to Teddy

George Washington on Leadership
Review of Richard Brookhiser`s biography of Washington

Brookhiser draws upon a wealth of historical material to identify and then discuss leadership lessons to be learned from George Washington’s life and career, lessons that remain relevant after more than 200 years. All leaders attract followers but only great leaders sustain the support of their followers. That is certainly true of Washington who was, according to contemporary accounts, an extraordinarily attractive man with a commanding presence whom everyone trusted, even those who strongly disagreed with some of his military decisions and later, with other of his decisions when serving as the first president of the United States.

for the rest go to Washington

Valuable Lincoln document found in Hawaii

A priceless document that was hidden away in the Hawaii State Archives for decades has finally been explained. It is a historical treasure signed by Abraham Lincoln as part of his plan to free slaves during the Civil War. Someone found the document on a shelf in a vault at the archives in 1935. They recognized Lincoln's signature on the lower right corner, but did not know what the document was. It remained a mystery until a historian with the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois visited the archives a few months ago.
For the rest go to Lincoln

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is one of my favourite historians. The following is a list of some videos of the man himself in intellectual action.

On Pat Buchanan's WWII historical revision book

On the Peleponnesian War

Conversations with History at Berkley (yes Berkley...)

War in a classical context

The Great Depression - An Alternative view

Source: The Right Nation
By Howie Rich

History is written by many people, but those who write government school textbooks tend to hold disproportionate sway.Sadly, their vision of America – which has driven conventional wisdom and popular opinion for decades – is built on many myths.The biggest myth of them all?

That capitalism and our free market system caused the Great Depression – and that only a massive expansion of the federal government saved America from permanent economic ruin.Nothing could be further from the truth – and yet as the true history of government meddling repeats itself all around us (with the direst of consequences for future generations), America seems incapable of learning from these mistakes for the simple reason that no one has ever taught them how destructive interventionism has been in the past and present.

Over a decade ago, Lawrence Reed of the Mackinac Center – a Michigan-based research and educational institute – penned an important analysis of the Great Depression.
Written at the height of the dot-com boom (and shortly after President Bill Clinton told us that “the era of big government is over”) Reed’s treatise breaks the Depression down into sections and analyzes the cause and effect associated with each new development.His conclusion? It’s a complete reversal of the textbook myth, an unflinchingly-candid, meticulously-documented proof that “government intervention worsened (the Depression) and kept the economy in a stupor for over a decade.”

“The calamity that began in 1929 lasted at least three times longer than any of the country’s previous depressions because the government compounded its initial errors with a series of additional and harmful interventions,” Reed writes.Anyone who follows things like money supply and interest rate adjustments knows that the Federal Reserve’s policies in the months leading up to the Great Crash of 1928 courted disaster.But it was the effect of government interventionism after the crash that did the real damage – which given the unprecedented $13 trillion intervention currently underway in our country should send shivers up and down every American’s spine.Perhaps most importantly, Reed’s paper shatters once and for all the myth that President Herbert Hoover was the laissez-faire capitalist recalled by American textbooks.

For starters, Hoover’s administration – with Congressional support – dramatically increased government spending from 16.4 percent to 21.5 of GNP in one year. Hoover also signed a foolhardy tariff that crippled trade, as well as the largest tax hike in American history in the spring if 1932.On top of that, during Hoover’s tenure the Federal Reserve imposed the biggest interest rate increase in its history.High tariffs, huge subsidies, deflationary monetary policy, tax increases – does that sound like a laissez-faire capitalist to you?

Ironically, Franklin Delano Roosevelt – whose New Deal policies were later revealed to have been taken straight out of Hoover’s playbook – won election by blasting his predecessor as “reckless and extravagant,” and presiding over “the greatest spending administration in peacetime in all of history.”Roosevelt, the “limited government” advocate, even bemoaned Hoover’s desire to “center control of everything in Washington.”Obviously, Roosevelt flip-flopped after he was elected and put Hoover’s interventionist approach on steroids – much as President Barack Obama has done with the failed bailout mentality of his predecessor.The reality, though, is that none of these leaders differ all that much in their ideological approach to recession.Now the question is this – does the big government approach work?Absolutely not.

Prior to the Great Depression, no American recession had lasted longer than four years. Most were over in two. The Great Depression dragged on for nearly twelve years, however, with unemployment reaching as high as 25% at one point. And just as it is doing now, government over-taxed and over-regulated the economy the whole way through, starving it of desperately needed capital while consolidating frightening levels of power in Washington.But that’s not the story told by government textbooks – just as it’s not the story that’s being told today by the America’s mainstream media.Politicians are relying on big government’s myth to make – and promote – some of the most monumentally foolhardy economic decisions in our nation’s history.

Frankly, it’s past time that we started telling the truth about our past – and applying common sense to the future.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Arab Israeli Conflict - forgotten facts

Source: Steve Shamark

The term "Palestinian" is itself a masterful twisting of history. To portray themselves as indigenous, Arab settlers adopted the name of an ancient Mediterranean tribe, the Philistines ("Invaders" in Hebrew), that disappeared almost 3000 years ago. The connection between this tribe and modern day Arabs is nil. Romans, in order to conceal their shame and anger with rebellious regions, changed the references to Judea and Samaria by naming them Palestine.

1. Nationhood and Jerusalem - Israel became a nation in the 14th century B.C.E. Two thousand years before the rise of Islam.

2. Since 1272 B.C.E. the Jews have had dominion over the land for up to 1,000 years with a continuous Jewish presence in the land for the past 3,300 years.

3. The only Arab dominion since the Arab invasion and conquest in 635 C.E. lasted no more than 22 years.

4. King David founded the city of Jerusalem. Mohammed never came to Jerusalem.

5. For over 3,000 years, Jerusalem has been the Jewish capital. Jerusalem has never been the capital of any Arab or Muslim entity. Even when the Jordanians occupied Jerusalem, they never sought to make it their capital and Arab leaders did not come to visit.

6. Jerusalem is mentioned over 700 times in Tanach, the Jewish Holy Scriptures. Jerusalem is not mentioned once in the Koran.

7. Jews pray facing Jerusalem. Muslims pray facing Mecca (often with their backs toward Jerusalem).

8. In 1854, according to a report in the New York Tribune, Jews constituted two-thirds of the population of that holy city. (The source: A journalist on assignment in the Middle East that year for the Tribune. His name was Karl Marx. Yes, that Karl Marx.)

9. In 1867, Mark Twain took a tour of Palestine. This is how he described that land: "A desolate country whose soil is rich enough but is given over wholly to weeds. A silent, mournful expanse. We never saw a human".

10. In 1882, official Ottoman Turk census figures showed that, in the entire Land of Israel, there were only 141 000 Muslims, both Arab and non-Arab.

11. A travel guide to Palestine and Syria was published in 1906 by Karl Baedeker; The book estimated the total population of Jerusalem at 60,000, of whom 7,000 were Muslims, 13,000 were Christians and 40,000 were Jews.

12. As the Jews came and drained the swamps and made the deserts bloom, Arabs followed. They came for jobs, for prosperity, for freedom. And, they came in large numbers.

13. In 1922, with what was widely acknowledged as the illegal separation of Trans-Jordan, the Jews were forbidden to settle on almost 77 per cent of the Palestine, while Arab settlement went unrestricted and encouraged by British mandatory authority.

14. Prior to the Second World War Mojli Amin, a member of the Arab Defense Committee for Palestine, proposed the idea "that all the Arabs of Palestine will leave and be divided up amongst the neighboring Arab countries. In exchange for this, all the Jews living in Arab countries will leave and come to Palestine."

15. Did you know that Saudi Arabia was not created until 1913, Lebanon until 1920? Iraq did not exist as a nation until 1932, Syria until 1941; the borders of Jordan were established in 1946 and Kuwait in 1961. Any of these nations that would say Israel is only a recent arrival would have to deny their own rights as recent arrivals as well. They did not exist as countries. They were all under the control of the Turks. Over 80 per cent of the original British Mandate land was given to Arabs without population transfer of Arabs from the land designated for Jews.

16. In 1947, the Jewish state huddled on 18 per cent of the original British Mandate land. The Jews accepted it gratefully. The Arabs rejected it with a vengeance and seven Arab states immediately declared war against Israel.

17. In 1948, the Arab refugees were encouraged to leave Israel by Arab leaders promising to purge the land of Jews. Most of them left in fear of being killed by their own Arab brothers as traitors.

18. Some 850,000 Jewish refugees were forced to flee from Arab countries, due to Arab brutality, persecution and pogroms.

19. The number of Arab refugees who left Israel in 1948 is claimed to be around 630,000 (where did they get this number?). Based on population census, estimated number of Arabs who left Israel was around 460,000. They were ordered to leave by Arab leaders at the time.

20. From 1948 till 1967 Arabs made no attempt to create a Palestinian state. Under Jordanian rule, Jewish holy sites were desecrated, 58 synagogues in Jerusalem were destroyed and the Jews and Christians were denied access to places of worship. Under Israeli rule, all Muslim and Christian sites have been preserved and made accessible to people of all faiths.

21. Arabs began identifying themselves as part of a Palestinian people in 1964 only, on the initiative of Egyptian-born Yasser Arafat. The idea became popular Arab propaganda tool after Israel re-captured Judea, Samaria and Gaza in the defensive 6-Day War of 1967.

22. Out of the 100,000,000 refugees since World War II, Arab-Palestinians are the only refugee group in the world that has never been absorbed or integrated into their own peoples' lands. Jewish refugees were completely absorbed into Israel.

23. Arab refugees INTENTIONALLY were not absorbed or integrated by the rich Arab oil states that control 99.9 per cent of the Middle East landmass. They are kept as virtual prisoners by the Arab power brokers with misplaced hatred for Jews and Western democracy.

24. There is only one Jewish state. There are 60 Muslim countries, including 22 Arab nations.

25. The PLO's Charter still calls for the destruction of the State of Israel.

26. Pan-Arabism or the doctrine of Muslim Caliphate declares that all land that used to belong to Muslims must be returned to them. Thus, Spain, for example, must eventually be re-conquered.

An Eye Witness Account of the Armenian Genocide

As written by Grigoris Balakian

The German officers on their way to Palestine and the Mesopotamian front had no choice but to pass before the Bagche [Asia Minor] station [train]. All of them used offensive language with regard to the Armenians. They considered us to be engaging in intrigue, ready to strike the Turkish army from the rear, and thus traitors to the fatherland…deserving of all manner of punishment.

Although most of the Armenians living in Turkey had been deported, scattered, and martyred in the spring of 1915, a few hundred thousand survivors still perishing in the deserts to the south—wasting away to nothing. Nevertheless the German officers’ Armenophobic fury continued, and not a word of compassion was heard from their lips. On the contrary, they justified the Ittihad government, saying, “You Armenians deserve your punishment. Any state would have punished rebellious subjects who took up arms to realize national hopes by the destruction of the country.”
When we objected, asking if other states would dare to massacre women and children, along with men, and annihilate an entire race on account of a few guilty people, they replied: “Yes, it’s true that the punishment was a bit severe, but you must realize that during such chaotic and frightful days of war as these, it was difficult to find the time and means to separate the guilty from the innocent.” This was also the merciless answer of the chief executioners—Talaat, Enver, Behaeddin Shakir, Nazim—and their Ittihad camarilla.

The German officers pretended ignorance of the widespread slaughter of more than a million innocent Armenians, irrespective of sex and age, and referred only to deaths by starvation and the adversities of travel during the deportations. Thus they exonerated the Turkish government, saying that its inability to provide for hundreds of thousands of deportees in a disorganized land like Asia Minor was not surprising. Meanwhile Turkish government officials prevented the starving refugees from receiving bread distributed by the Austrians and Swiss, stating, “Orders have come from Constantinople not to give any assistance. We cannot allow either bread or medicine to be given. The supreme order is to annihilate this evil race. How dare you rescue them from death?” The German officers would often speak of us as Christian Jews and as blood sucking usurers of the Turkish people.

What a falsification of the wretched realities prevailing in Asia Minor, and what a reversal of roles! Yes indeed, there was an oppressor. Either the Germans were consciously distorting the facts and roles, or the Turks had really convinced them that the Turks were the victims and the Armenians were criminals. How appropriate it is to recall here this pair of Turkish sayings: “The clever thief has the master of the house hanged” and “The one who steals the minaret prepares its sheath in advance, of course.”

Many German officers had no qualms about turning over to the Turkish authorities Armenian youths who had sought refuge with them; they knew full well that they were delivering them to their executioners. If an Armenian merely spoke negatively about a German—be he the emperor or [Baron] von der Goltz Pasha [a German military aide to the Ottoman Empire], or the average German—or dared to criticize German indifference toward the Armenian massacres, he was immediately arrested and turned over to the nearest Turkish military or police authority. And if the Germans found a certain Armenian particularly irritating, they pinned the label of spy on him.

Mistaking me for an Austrian, a few German officers boasted of having turned over several Armenians to the Turkish police, adding with a laugh, “Only the Turks know how to talk to the Armenians.”

Bias in the Movie Kingdom of Heaven

Taken from Zombie Times

The Controversy Begins The controversy over this film was first revealed in this eye-opening article in the British newspaper The Telegraph in January of 2004. In it, highly respected historians are quoted as saying the film is "complete fiction" and "panders to Osama bin Laden":
Sir Ridley Scott, the Oscar-nominated director, was savaged by senior British academics last night over his forthcoming film which they say "distorts" the history of the Crusades to portray Arabs in a favourable light.

The £75 million film, which stars Orlando Bloom, Jeremy Irons and Liam Neeson, is described by the makers as being "historically accurate" and designed to be "a fascinating history lesson". Academics, however - including Professor Jonathan Riley-Smith, Britain's leading authority on the Crusades - attacked the plot of Kingdom of Heaven, describing it as "rubbish", "ridiculous", "complete fiction" and "dangerous to Arab relations". The film, which began shooting last week in Spain, is set in the time of King Baldwin IV (1161-1185), leading up to the Battle of Hattin in 1187 when Saladin conquered Jerusalem for the Muslims.

The script depicts Baldwin's brother-in-law, Guy de Lusignan, who succeeds him as King of Jerusalem, as "the arch-villain". A further group, "the Brotherhood of Muslims, Jews and Christians", is introduced, promoting an image of cross-faith kinship. "They were working together," the film's spokesman said. "It was a strong bond until the Knights Templar caused friction between them." The Knights Templar, the warrior monks, are portrayed as "the baddies" while Saladin, the Muslim leader, is a "a hero of the piece", Sir Ridley's spokesman said. "At the end of our picture, our heroes defend the Muslims, which was historically correct." Prof Riley-Smith, who is Dixie Professor of Ecclesiastical History at Cambridge University, said the plot was "complete and utter nonsense".

He said that it relied on the romanticised view of the Crusades propagated by Sir Walter Scott in his book The Talisman, published in 1825 and now discredited by academics. "It sounds absolute balls. It's rubbish. It's not historically accurate at all. They refer to The Talisman, which depicts the Muslims as sophisticated and civilised, and the Crusaders are all brutes and barbarians. It has nothing to do with reality." Prof Riley-Smith added: "...There was never a confraternity of Muslims, Jews and Christians.

That is utter nonsense." Dr Jonathan Philips, a lecturer in history at London University and author of The Fourth Crusade and the Sack of Constantinople...said: "The Templars as 'baddies' is only sustainable from the Muslim perspective..." Dr Philips said that by venerating Saladin, who was largely ignored by Arab history until he was reinvented by romantic historians in the 19th century, Sir Ridley was following both Saddam Hussein and Hafez Assad, the former Syrian dictator. Both leaders commissioned huge portraits and statues of Saladin, who was actually a Kurd, to bolster Arab Muslim pride. Prof Riley-Smith added that Sir Ridley's efforts were misguided and pandered to Islamic fundamentalism. "It's Osama bin Laden's version of history. It will fuel the Islamic fundamentalists." ...Sir Ridley's spokesman said that the film portrays the Arabs in a positive light. "It's trying to be fair and we hope that the Muslim world sees the rectification of history."...

This article was noted briefly in the blogosphere (most notably on Dhimmi Watch, and a short but funny parody of the script by Blogger Ben Kepple, who tossed a Buddhist into Scott's "nonsensical" religious Rainbow Coalition), but the film was still a year and a half away from release at that point, so there was otherwise little comment in the media.

Dor the rest go to:

Monday, March 2, 2009

Top Forty Chemists of All-Time

Just my Opinion....

1.Dmitri Mendeleyev - Russian - Devised the Periodic table of elements. Predicted that several more elements would be discovered.

2.Antoine Lavoisier - French - Showed that air is a mixture of oxygen and nitrogen. Disproved the old Theory of phlogiston and determined the nature of combustion. Lavoisier wrote the first modern book on chemistry and explained the law of conservation of matter.

3.Henry Cavendish - English - Showed that water could be produced from two gases. Discovered hydrogen.

4. Amedeo Avogadro - Italian - First to distinguish molecules from atoms. Developed Avogadro's Constant (The number of particles of a substance in a mole). Studied the effect of combining volumes.

5. Jons Jakob Berzelius - Swedish - Developed the symbols for many of the chemicals. Calculated the atomic weights accurately of many of them and discovered Selenium, Silicon and Thorium.

6. John Dalton - English - Developed an atomic theory of matter and explained the laws of partial pressure.

7. Robert Boyle - Irish - Studied gases and showed how Pressure and volume at constant mass were indirectly proportional to one another.

8. Joseph-Louis Gay-Lussac and Jacques Charles - Both French - Studied gases. Showed that gas volume at constant pressure increases with Temperature.

9. Friederich Wöhler - German - Father of Organic Chemistry. He was the first chemist to synthesize an organic compound, Urea.

10. Carl Scheele - Swedish - Co-discover of oxygen with Joseph Priestley. Also discovered chlorine, manganese and molybdenum.

11. Marie Curie - Polish - Isolated radioactive elements radium and polonium.

12. Josiah Gibbs - American - Founder of Chemical Thermodynamics.

13. Jacobus van't Hoff - Dutch - Thermodynamicist. He was one of the earlier chemists to speak about the 3-D nature of molecules.

14. Frederick Sanger - English - Biochemist. Revealed the Amino sequence for insulin. Worked out methods for determining the molecular structure of nucleic acids. Two time Nobel Prize winner.

15. Humphry Davy - English - Showed the connection between electrochemistry and the elements. Discovered the elements Potassium, Sodium, Barium, Calcium and Magnesium amongst others.

16. Joseph Priestley - English - Oxygen co-discoverer. See Scheele.

17. Henri Le Chatelier - French - Developed principle that every change in a stable chemical equilibrium will result in a shift in the direction of the equilibrium to reduce the effects of the change.

18. Frederick Soddy - English - Introduced the isotope theory of elements.

19. Svante Arrhenius - Sweden - Established modern electrochemistry.

20. Germain Hess - Swiss/Russian - Introduced Hess's Law for determining the heat of reactions.

21.Wilhelm Ostwald - Latvian - Discovered Dilution law. Invented process to make nitric acid by oxidizing ammonia. He also developed a theory of colour.

22. Daniel Rutherford - Scottish - Discoverer of Nitrogen.

23. Friederich Kekulé - German - Organic Chemist. Described the ring structure of benzene.

24. Stanislao Cannizzaro - Italian - Established the use of Atomic weights in Chemical formulas and calculations.

25. Linus Pauling - American - Applied Quantum Theory to determine Chemical Structure (especially of proteins). Showed how electrons effect the formation of molecules.

26. Johannes Brønsted - Danish and Thomas Lowry - English - Independently introduced the Brønsted - Lowry definition of an acid as something that donates a proton and a base as something that accepts a proton.

27. Leo Baekland - Belgian/American - Father of the Plastics Industry.

28. William Ramsay - Scottish - Co-discovered Argon with Lord Rayleigh. Was first to identify, helium, neon, krypton and xenon.

29. Henri Moissan - French - Isolated fluorine. Invented the electric furnace. Discovered carborundum and produced artificial diamonds in a laboratory.

30. Theodore Richards - American - Performed extensive work on atomic weights to reveal the existence of isotopes.

31. Dorothy Hodgkin - English - Crystallographer. Used x-ray crystallography to reveal the structure of such molecules as penicillin and insulin.

32. Thomas Graham - Scottish - Developed Graham's Law of Diffusion. Founder of Colloidal Chemistry.

33. Fritz Haber - German - Invented the process to make ammonia from nitrogen in the air. Known as the Haber process. Invention allowed Germany to continue making explosives after World War I ban in spite of the blockade on the importation of nitrates.

34. Irving Langmuir - American. High Temperature chemist. Work lead to the development of the tungsten lamp. Also studied gases. Research in this field would have practical implications with respect to the use of atomic hydrogen in welding torches.

35. Peter Debye - Dutch - Worked as well on molecular structure. Pioneered x-ray powder photography.

36. Harold Urey - American - Isolated Heavy water and discovered deuterium.

37. Paul Flory - American - Leading figure in the field of Polymerization. Studied properties of plastics, ribbers and fibers.

38. William Perkin - English - Chemist noted for his work on dyes. Invented mauve.

39. George Washington Carver - American - Agricultural chemist. Research involved the synthesis of products from peanuts, sweet potatoes and soybeans.

40. François Raoult - French - Developed law which relates vapor pressure of a solution to the number of molecules of solute dissolved in it.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Honouring Cuba's Heroes

Author: Humberto Fontova

You'll often find people with itchy noses and red-rimmed eyes ambling amidst the long rows of white crosses at Miami’s Tamiami Park on Coral Way and 107 Avenue. It's a mini-Arlington cemetery called the Cuban Memorial, and it stands in honor of the tens of thousands of murder victims of Fidel Castro and Che Guevara. It is a tribute, too, to those who fell while trying to free Cuba from the barbarism that the two imposed with their Soviet overlords while America’s "best and brightest" dithered, bumbled and finally betrayed the Cuban people. The tombs are symbolic. Most of the bodies still lie in mass graves.

Some of these Cuban Memorial's visitors will be kneeling, others walking slowly, looking for a name. You may remember a similar scene from the opening frames of Saving Private Ryan. Many clutch rosaries. Many of the ladies will be pressing their faces into the breast of a relative who drove them there, a relative who wraps his arms around her spastically heaving shoulders. Try as he might not to cry himself, he usually finds that the sobs wracking his mother, grandmother or aunt are contagious. Yet he's often too young to remember the face of his martyred uncle, father or cousin — the name they just recognized on the white cross. "Fusilado" — firing squad execution — it says below it.

There are 14,000 crosses in all, symbolizing those executed on the orders of the man being swamped and feted by U.S. trade delegations from Louisiana to Nebraska to Maine. Even many of the older men walking among these crosses will be red-eyed, choked up. No denying it, we Cubans are an emotional people and not ashamed to show it, at the proper time.

The elderly lady still holds a tissue to her eyes and nose as they wait to cross the street after leaving the memorial. Her red-eyed grandson still has his arm around her. She told him about how his freedom-fighter grandfather yelled "Viva Cuba Libre!" and "Viva Cristo Rey!" the instant before the volley shattered his body. They cross the street slowly, silently, and run into a dreadlocked youth coming out of a music store. His T-shirt sports the face of her husband's cowardly executioner, Che Guevara. They turn their heads in rage toward the store window. Well, there's the murderer's face again, on a huge poster, $19.95 it says at the bottom, right next to the inscription "Fight Oppression!" You, friends, tell me how she might feel.

Another woman will go home after placing flowers under her father's cross — a father she never knew. "Killed in action, Bay of Pigs, April 18th, 1961" reads the inscription on his cross. She was 2 at the time. "We will not be evacuated!" yelled her father's commander into his radio that day, as 41,000 Red Troops and swarms of Stalin tanks closed the ring on her father and his 1,400 utterly abandoned Band of Brothers. "The Best and Brightest" all had important social engagements that day.

"We came here to Fight!" her father's commander kept yelling at the enraged and heartsick CIA man offering to evacuate them from the doomed beachhead. "Let it end here!" was his last yell, barely audible over the deafening blasts from the storm of Soviet artillery. Her 23-year-old father — an accountant in Cuba a year before, a dish washer in a Miami Hotel only two months before, and now grim-faced, thirst-crazed and delirious after three days of continuous ground combat — heard the order from his commander: "No Retreat! We Stand and Fight!" and rammed in his last clip. By then he'd long realized he'd never see his daughter's graduation.
His ammo expended, he fell among the bodies of 100 of his comrades, after mauling his communist enemies to the score of 20 to one. "Wimps! Yes, Wimps!" the woman hears Michael Moore label her father and his Band of Brothers in one of America's best-selling books. "Crybabies too!" Again, friends, you tell me how she might feel.

Castro murdered her relatives, shattered her family and plunged a nation — which had double Japan's per capita income in 1958, plus net immigration from Europe — into a pesthole that repels even half-starved Haitians. He jailed, tortured and murdered more political prisoners than pre-war Hitler, and about 20 times as many as Mussolini. He asked, pleaded and finally tried to cajole Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev, the “Butcher of Budapest,” into a nuclear strike against America. Failing there, he tried to blow up Macy's, Gimbel's, Bloomingdales and Grand Central Station with more TNT than used by the Madrid subway terrorists.

Yet Fidel Castro is still hailed as "One Helluva Guy" by Ted Turner; as "Very likable, a man I regard as a friend!" by George McGovern; and "Way Too Cool!" by Bonnie Raitt, among dozens upon dozens of other accolades by dozens of other liberal scoundrels and imbeciles. Today the U.S. is his biggest food supplier.

Tens of thousands of Cubans (and dozens of Americans) fought him. "We were fighting for Cuba's freedom as well as America's defense. To call us mercenaries is a grave insult," says Alabama Air Guard officer Albert Persons about his and his Alabama comrades' heroism during the battle of The Bay of Pigs. The Kennedy administration might abandon our comrades out, they snorted. We sure as hell won't.

It was more than bluster, too. Four U.S. volunteers — Pete Ray, Riley Shamburger, Leo Barker and Wade Grey — suited up, gunned the engines and joined the fight. These were Southern boys, not pampered Ivy Leaguers, so there was no navel-gazing. They had archaic notions of right and wrong, of honor and loyalty, of who America's enemies really are. Their Cuban comrades — men they'd trained and befriended — were being slaughtered on that beachhead. Knowing their lumbering B-26s were sitting ducks for Castro's unmolested jets and Sea Furies, all four Alabama air guard volunteers flew over the doomed beachhead to lend support to their betrayed brothers in arms.

All four were shot down. All four have their names in a place of honor next to their Cuban comrades on The Bay of Pigs Memorial, plus streets named after them in Little Havana, plus their crosses at the Cuban Memorial. When Doug MacArthur waded ashore on Leyte, he grabbed a radio: "People of the Philippines: I have returned. By the grace of Almighty God our forces stand again on Philippine soil – soil consecrated in the blood of our two peoples." Cuban soil was similarly consecrated.

"My hatred of Bolshevism and Bolsheviks is not founded on their silly system of economics or their absurd doctrine of an impossible equality," wrote Winston Churchill. "It arises from the bloody and devastating terrorism which they practice in every land into which they have broken, and by which alone their criminal regime can be maintained." Sir Winston Churchill did not lose a single family member or close friend to that "bloody and devastating terrorism."

Yet to this day his every utterance and note is revered as an exemplar of judiciousness and heroism. But let a Cuban-American who lost half his family to Communist firing squads and prisons express the identical sentiment and he's promptly denounced by liberals as a "screaming, irrational hothead!" "Disgusting!" spat Bryant Gumbel while watching Cuban-American demonstrators in front of Elian Gonzalez's uncle's house six years ago.

Some very dedicated and selfless folks are holding a memorial service, including a Mass and vigil at the Cuban Memorial in Miami's Tamiami Park this weekend. The service is open to the public. Attend and you'll be surrounded by a sea of crosses, many heroes and heroines, along with their surviving friends and kin. If ever a group merited a memorial service, it's those here honored. Even if you're not related to any of these folks, even if their story is new to you, attend and you'll honor heroes who fought America's most rabid enemy — and for good measure poke a sharp finger into the eye of the establishment Left.