Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Hiroshima, Mon Amour (Hiroshima, My Love)

The title of this post is a reference to the famous 1959 French film of that title, which is about 'failed relationships'.  I believe reviewing Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Dresden offer important insights into the conflict between Gaza and Israel.  A much repeated line in the movie is "You are not endowed with memory."

Yesterday, Theodore Van Kirk died at 93, the last surviving crew member from the Enola Gay, the plane which dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, 69 years ago a week from today, August 6, 1945, at 8:15 a.m.  The second atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki three days later, on August 9th.  Both cities were obliterated.

The Japanese surrendered on August 15th, 1945.

Prior to the obliteration of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the U.S. had engaged in extensive firebombing of Japanese urban areas in the final year of the war, beginning in late 1944.  It is estimated that as many as 900,000 people were killed, due in part to the lack of effective air defense by the Japanese, and due to the lack of fire-fighting equipment and air raid shelters for civilians.

To quote Wikipedia:
The strategic bombing campaign was greatly expanded from November 1944 when bases in the Mariana Islands became available as a result of the Mariana Islands Campaign. These attacks initially targeted industrial facilities, but from March 1945 were generally directed against urban areas as much of the manufacturing process was carried out in small workshops and private homes. Aircraft flying from Allied aircraft carriers and the Ryukyu Islands also frequently struck targets in Japan during 1945 in preparation for the planned invasion of Japan scheduled for October 1945. During early August 1945, the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were obliterated by atomic bombs.
Japan's military and civil defenses were unable to stop the Allied attacks. The number of fighter aircraft and anti-aircraft guns assigned to defensive duties in the home islands was inadequate, and most of these aircraft and guns had difficulty reaching the high altitudes where B-29s often operated. Fuel shortages, inadequate pilot training and a lack of coordination between units also constrained the effectiveness of the fighter force. Despite the vulnerability of Japanese cities to firebombing attacks, the firefighting services lacked training and equipment, and few air raid shelters were constructed for civilians. As a result, the B-29s were able to inflict severe damage on urban areas while suffering few losses.
The Allied bombing campaign was one of the main factors which influenced the Japanese government's decision to surrender in mid-August 1945. However, there has been a long-running debate over the morality of the attacks on Japanese cities, and the use of atomic weapons is particularly controversial. The most commonly cited estimate of Japanese casualties from the raids is 333,000 killed and 473,000 wounded. There are a number of other estimates of total fatalities, however, which range from 241,000 to 900,000. In addition to the loss of life, the raids caused extensive damage to Japan's cities and contributed to a large decline in industrial production. In contrast, Allied casualties were low.

Japanese cities were highly vulnerable to damage from firebombing due to their design and the weak state of the country's civil defense organization. Urban areas were typically congested, and most buildings were constructed from highly flammable materials such as paper and wood. In addition, industrial and military facilities in urban areas were normally surrounded by densely populated residential buildings.[15][16] Despite this vulnerability, few cities had full-time professional firefighters and most relied on volunteers. Such firefighting forces that did exist lacked modern equipment and used outdated tactics.[17] Air raid drills had been held in Tokyo and Osaka since 1928, however, and from 1937 local governments were required to provide civilians with manuals that explained how to respond to air attacks.[18] Few air-raid shelters and other air defense facilities for civilians and industry were constructed prior to the Pacific War.
A similar firebombing, leading to massive damage from what has been termed a firestorm, occurred in Europe with the joint U.S. and U.K. bombing and obliteration of large parts of the city of Dresden, in Saxony, Germany.  While the allied military claimed this was an essential communications and logistics hub, those who argue against that explanation view this as much more payback for the bombing of civilians in London than a genuine military necessity.

Again, from Wikipedia:
The Bombing of Dresden was an attack on the city of Dresden, the capital of the German state of Saxony, that took place in the final months of the Second World War in the European Theatre. In four raids between 13 and 15 February 1945, 722 heavy bombers of the British Royal Air Force (RAF) and 527 of the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) dropped more than 3,900 tons of high-explosive bombs and incendiary devices on the city.[1] The bombing and the resulting firestorm destroyed over 1,600 acres (6.5 km2) of the city centre.[2] Between 22,700 and 25,000 people were killed.[3] Three more USAAF air raids followed, two occurring on 2 March and 17 April aimed at the city's railroad marshaling yard and one small raid on 17 April aimed at industrial areas.
Post-war discussion of whether or not the attacks were justified has led to the bombing becoming one of the moral causes célèbres of the war.[4]
A 1953 United States Air Force report defended the operation as the justified bombing of a military and industrial target, which was a major rail transport and communication centre, housing 110 factories and 50,000 workers in support of the German war effort.[5] Several researchers have claimed that not all of the communications infrastructure, such as the bridges, were targeted, nor were the extensive industrial areas outside the city centre.[6] Critics of the bombing argue that Dresden—sometimes referred to as "Florence on the Elbe" (Elbflorenz)—was a cultural landmark of little or no military significance, and that the attacks were indiscriminate area bombing and not proportionate to the commensurate military gains.[7][8]


The following narrative accompanied the above video; I could not provide better context myself:

By February 1945, the city was filled with refugees -- people moving from east to west in an attempt to escape the advancing Red Army. The Nazi propaganda machine had filled the minds of the Germans with horror stories of what to expect if the Red Army got to Germany. Thousands now fled from this army as it relentlessly advanced to Berlin. No-one knows how many people were in Dresden when the city was bombed. Officially, the city's population was 350,000, but with the number of refugees there, it would have been a lot higher than this. Between February 13th and February 14th 1945, between 35,000 and 135,000 people were killed by Allied bombing in Dresden. Historians still argue over the number of deaths. However, there were so many refugees in the city at the time that the real figure will almost certainly never be known. In all, over three waves of attacks, 3,300 tons of bombs were dropped on the city. Many of the bombs that were dropped were incendiary bombs. These created so much fire that a firestorm developed. The more the city burned, the more oxygen was sucked in -- and the greater the firestorm became. It is thought that the temperature peaked at 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit. The surface of roads melted and fleeing people found that their feet were burned as they ran. Some jumped into reservoirs built in the city centre to assist firefighters. However, these were ten feet deep, smooth-sided and had no ladders - many drowned. Very few of those in the city centre survived.
This link of contemporaneous news footage is equally candid about the attacks on Dresden as 'carpet bombing' and as reducing the city "to atoms".

If you give credence to the axiom "Those who do not learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them", we should be examining the lessons of Dresden, Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

In spite of questionable military ethics in those attacks on what were essentially civilian targets, at least in WW II there can be no dispute that the conflict was symmetrical -- both sides were similarly equipped with large militaries, including air forces and navies.

In the Gaza/Israel conflict, the sides are extremely asymmetrical.

In the cases of WW II, the allies won BOTH the war and the peace; Japan and Germany, and Italy, became our close allies, not continuing enemies.

I don't see Israel winning EITHER war OR peace, in contrast to the resolution of WW II.  Rather, it appears that Israel is only adding injury and death to insult in refusing to address the underlying issues which act as ongoing provocations to those in Gaza and on the West Bank. 

Israel has, for their entire period of existence as a modern nation, reneged on their agreement in 1948 onwards, termed the Right to Return for Palestinians. 

Israel has for their entire existence refused to give Palestinians equal representation in their Knesset, violating their agreement when the nation was established in 1948.  Currently, Palestinians in Israel comprise approximately 20+% of the population; Palestinians have only 10% of the representation in the Knesset, and those individuals are regularly arrested and beaten by government authority - without having done anything illegal to justify that abuse of authority.

Our own REAL Tea Party, as distinct from the pseudo-patriots who have hijacked that name, opposed taxation without representation. IF we truly value that premise, that FOUNDATIONAL premise, we should not only oppose along with the Palestinians their lack of representation in taxation, but in all other areas of government, including the judicial system, where Palestinians are under-represented and where they are treated as second class citizens every bit as much as our own Jim Crow laws made black American second class citizens for decades.

Palestinians have had their land taken from them, as have the Bedouin in Israel, a process that continues to this day, on the West Bank.  For their entire existence, the nation of Israel has engaged in illegal, unethical, and immoral land grabs, often with little or no restitution and no due process for the original Palestinian land owners.

Jews throughout history suffered 'pogroms', 'purgative attacks'; they have also suffered ghettos.
The Russian word pogrom (погром), with stress on the second syllable, is a noun derived from the verb gromit' (громи́ть) meaning "to destroy, to wreak havoc, to demolish violently".[12])

The word 'ghetto' dates back to Jews being confined to a small area, as a disparaged minority, from the Venetian word 'borghetto'.
In some cases, the ghetto was a Jewish quarter with a relatively affluent population (for instance the Jewish ghetto in Venice). In other cases, ghettos were places of terrible poverty and during periods of population growth, ghettos (as that of Rome), had narrow streets and tall, crowded houses. Residents had their own justice system. Around the ghetto stood walls...
A reasonable argument can be made that Gaza has suffered both the experience of both sequential pogrom-like violence and non-violent oppression from larger and stronger Israel, and been turned into an effective walled-in ghetto, and as has the West Bank.

As noted by an Al Jezeera op ed that is directly on point:
Over 80 percent of the population of Gaza are refugees. With another two million Palestinian refugees in various states of desperation in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan, the crisis of 60-plus years would hardly be solved by the creation of a Palestinian Authority-type state. Not only has the more than 20 years of peace talks not benefited them at all, the situation for Palestinian refugees wherever they are in the region, has gotten progressively worse during that same period.

If life in Gaza is intolerable under the siege, life in Syria is impossible, life in Iraq is precarious at best, life in Lebanon is as if under a boot and so on. The Arab countries have proven their inhospitableness to Palestinians. If there were a people today in need of their own homeland for their continued security as a people, it is the Palestinians.

And yet, they once had and could have them once again - it is time to go home, time to return to Palestine. Not the Palestine of the occupied territories, but the Palestine of Asqelon, Asdud and Haifa. This will not be easy, and certainly not without risk of many being killed, for the Israeli military will surely be given orders to fire. Yet a population already captive, already under siege, already facing a future dystopia - namely the people of Gaza - have found themselves victims of repeated military assaults leaving thousands of dead and wounded.
The future generations of Gaza - without adequate water, sanitation and food - are traumatised to the point of requiring new studies into the effects of such unprecedented forms of collective punishment and targeting.
So what is the there to lose? There is no political party or faction on the Palestinian scene that is seeking more than a form of apartheid that the two-state "solution" offers. Military confrontations have only allowed Israel to expand its control over Palestinian territory, to displace and dispossess more Palestinians and to make life increasingly intolerable.
Unlike Japan, post the atomic blasts, Gaza has nothing to gain by surrender.  Unlike Germany, post Dresden's destruction,  Gaza has nothing to gain by surrender.  Unlike the ending of WW II and the WINNING of the subsequent peace, so long as there are 2 million to 5 million+ Palestinian refugees outside of Israel, and many others INSIDE Israel, Israel can win NEITHER the war or the peace proceeding along their current course.  They can only create millions upon millions more enemies to their security and continued existence.

Failing to respond to PEACEFUL protests leaves Palestinians without any other recourse.  From the Guardian, earlier this year:

Defiance and sadness as Palestinians forced off West Bank protest site

Ian Black reports from Ein Hijleh, where bulldozers have erased all trace of a camp after a week of peaceful direct action

Only hours later, hundreds of police and troops returned on Friday morning to force some 250 Palestinians off the site, close to Jericho and the Dead Sea, after a week of peaceful direct action designed to dramatise their claim to the land and to protest against peace talks they fear will consolidate rather than end the 46-year occupation by Israel.
Real peace can only occur if Israel honors its original commitment to fair treatment of Palestinians.

The legacy of history does not view this kind of destruction favorably; the violence, oppression and inequity inflicted on Gaza has none of the legitimacy of the bombings of Dresden, Hiroshima and Nagasaki -- and even that limited legitimacy of warring on civilians back in WWII continues to erode. 

Israel is winning NEITHER the war nor the peace, and cannot do so on its present course.  All they are achieving is to diminish their support in the world, including in America, their closest ally.

We do not condone attacks on civilians.  The Geneva Conventions do not condone attacking civilians.  International law does not condone attacking civilians:
Air warfare must comply with laws and customs of war, including international humanitarian law by protecting the victims of the conflict and refraining from attacks on protected persons.[1]
These restraints on aerial warfare are covered by the general laws of war, because unlike war on land and at sea—which are specifically covered by rules such as the 1907 Hague Convention and Protocol I additional to the Geneva Conventions, which contain pertinent restrictions, prohibitions and guidelines—there are no treaties specific to aerial warfare.[1]
To be legal, aerial operations must comply with the principles of humanitarian law: military necessity, distinction, and proportionality:[1] An attack or action must be intended to help in the military defeat of the enemy; it must be an attack on a military objective, and the harm caused to civilians or civilian property must be proportional and not excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated.
In 1977, Protocol I was adopted as an amendment to the Geneva Conventions, prohibiting the deliberate or indiscriminate attack of civilians and civilian objects, even if the area contained military objectives, and the attacking force must take precautions and steps to spare the lives of civilians and civilian objects as possible. However, forces occupying near densely populated areas must avoid locating military objectives near or in densely populated areas and endeavor to remove civilians from the vicinity of military objectives. Failure to do so would cause a higher civilian death toll resulting from bombardment by the attacking force and the defenders would be held responsible, even criminally liable, for these deaths. This issue was addressed because drafters of Protocol I pointed out historical examples such as Japan in World War II who often dispersed legitimate military and industrial targets (almost two-thirds of production was from small factories of thirty or fewer persons or in wooden homes, which were clustered around the factories) throughout urban areas in many of its cities either with the sole purpose of preventing enemy forces from bombing these targets or using its civilian casualties caused by enemy bombardment as propaganda value against the enemy. This move made Japan vulnerable to area bombardment and the U.S. Army Air Forces (USAAF) adopted a policy of carpetbombing which destroyed 69 Japanese cities with either incendiary bombs or atomic bombs, with the deaths of 381,000-500,000 Japanese people.[33][34][35][36]

The International Court of Justice gave an advisory opinion in July 1996 on the Legality of the Threat Or Use Of Nuclear Weapons. The court ruled that "[t]here is in neither customary nor international law any comprehensive and universal prohibition of the threat or use of nuclear weapons." However, by a split vote, it also found that "[t]he threat or use of nuclear weapons would generally be contrary to the rules of international law applicable in armed conflict." The Court stated that it could not definitively conclude whether the threat or use of nuclear weapons would be lawful or unlawful in an extreme circumstance of self-defense, in which the very survival of the state would be at stake.[37]
By no stretch of the imagination, when civilian Palestinian casualties are at 300 to every 1 Israeli and rising, can the attacks on Gaza be considered lawful or justified.  To continue, instead of changing course, will be disastrous.

When we do not learn the lessons of history, we are doomed.  It would appear that the Jews in Israel have themselves historically been on the other side of at least some of these lessons. Shame on them for repeating those mistakes.

"You are not endowed with memory."  Or, are we in fact endowed with both memory and the capacity to learn, and in learning to change?


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The right to keep and bare breasts! (or open carry breasts)

You wanted to see something else?
It seems that the open carry crowd in Texas is upset at some women lawfully displaying their breasts in public.

Somehow, it seems to me that it would be a "god" (goddess?) given right if such a thing were to exist since breasts, unlike firearms, are part of the human body.   Firearms are not only man made, but a fairly recent one on the historic timeline (maybe a thousand years or so back), which seems to knock the possibility that a deity had anything to do with their creation.

In fact, I would think that even the most hard core religious fanatic would have to admit that god created the human body. Women's breast perform the function of nurturing babies, which again points to the fact that they may have been designed by a creator deity if one believes in such things.

Additionally, it seems that it is not against the law to "keep and bare breasts" in Texas (at least the part where women openly carry their breasts), which means they can exercise their goddess given right to do just that.

Kinda like realising that god is responsible for most abortions:  god is also responsible for women having breasts.

As the song says:  Ya gotta like boobs a lot!



But if you have a problem with women exercising their right to keep and bare breasts, maybe you ought to consider that walking around with a weapon isn't exactly a friendly act. In fact, it is a threatening act to most thinking people.

Did that ever occur to you, or are you just too stupid for that to occur to you?

Next week: the NRA demands that Open Carry Texas ogle breasts; to be followed by a limp retraction.


See also:

Saturday, July 19, 2014

I blame conservatives

Liberals are pro-education; conservatives embrace stupidity, embrace anti-science views, and embrace mediocrity, and are anti-education.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Vladimr Putin

MIGHT not be responsible for the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH70, but, assuming he armed those who committed this unspeakable, monstrous atrocity, he is sure as hell ACCOUNTABLE.

He gave them the weapons, the sophisticated weapons they otherwise would not need EXCEPT to shoot at high altitude aircraft.  They did not need SA-11, phased-array guided Surface to Air Missiles to defend themselves from aerial attack by the Ukranian "Air Force."  These were offensive weapons which had to be deployed in a large area following sophisticated training.  Training his generals provided assuming these weren't in fact OPERATED by Russian regular military personnel.  He armed them in the manner of a regular, modern army and he set them loose.  These aren't weapons which any average soldier, let alone person, could have figured out how to fire.  It required extensive, specific training to prosecute and shoot down an airliner flying at 35,000 feet.  It requires connecting control radar, fire control computers and the firing platforms to each other, understanding those protocols AND knowing which buttons to press in which order to bring the radar online, to target the "right" aircraft, and finally to target, arm and fire the weapon.


These people, people who were trained almost certainly by active military personnel, appear (very strongly) to have killed almost 300 people, perhaps by mistake, but whether it was a mistake is NOT material.   Assuming it's the Pro-Russian "separatists" (read Russian operatives) then he, PUTIN, is accountable for what they've done.  Just like the bartender who gives the irresponsible drunk another drink and hands him the keys to the drunk's car, HE is accountable for their conduct once he gave them these weapons.

Damn Putin, damn his reckless, power-mad bear wrestling hide.  He could have set the world on course to war with his irresponsibility.  The vultures are circling and the hawks are calling.  I hope the President decides to meet out justice for the guilty.  I hope we isolate Russia on the world stage and that our European partners are willing to pay the price to do so, and do that which they've heretofore been unwilling to risk and to pay, and so President Obama had to go it alone.  I hope we can avoid war and I believe Mr. Putin, assuming what appears almost certainly to be true, IS true, well, I believe Vladimr will burn in the hell of his own making forever.  He'll certainly deserve it.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Or maybe not so respectfully....seriously

Not only was the Nazi regime pro-gun, they were also pro-life.


In Nazi Germany, the penalties for abortion were increased. In 1943, providing an abortion to an "Aryan" woman became a capital offense. Abortion was only permitted if the foetus was deformed or disabled in accordance with Nazi eugenics policies.
The Nazi mother's cross award


A case in point, Marie-Louise Giraud (17 November 1903 - 30 July1943) was a housewife and mother who became one of the last women to be guillotined in France. Giraud was a convicted abortionist in 1940s Nazi occupied France. She was executed on 30 July 1943 for having performed 27 abortions in the Cherbourg area.

In fact, the Nazi execution of abortion providers seems to fall in with radical pro-lifers extra-judically killing abortion providers.

Quite frankly the Nazis had very firm ideas about the role of women in Germany. Hitler thought that the population of Germany had to increase for the country to become more powerful. Therefore women were forced to give up work and have children.

On 5th July 1933 the Law for the Encouragement of Marriage was passed. This act gave all newly wed couples a loan of 1000 marks which was reduced by 25% for each child they had. If the couple went on to have four children the loan was wiped out.

Girls were taught at school that women had to have children and look after their husbands. They were told not to smoke or diet as it could affect their ability to have healthy children.

Unmarried women were also encouraged to have children and for those without a husband they could visit the local Lebensborn where they could be made pregnant by a racially pure member of the SS.

Quite frankly, anyone who is not historically ignorant should be afraid of where the US right is has been going.

See:
  •  Ferree, Myra Marx (2002). Shaping abortion discourse: democracy and the public sphere in Germany and the United States. Cambridge University Press.  
  • Women in Nazi Germany

Love these circulating on social media; each new caption is funnier and more clever than the last...










Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Hobby Lobby Horror

There is a problem with people who use their political leanings rather than legal doctrine and procedure being judges, that is they come up with piss poor legal decisions.

Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, 573 U.S. ___ (2014) will turn out to be yet another of the US Supreme Court's recent blunders because it used political leanings rather than legal method.

The concept that a corporation is a distinct entity with its own rights and obligations separate from those of its shareholders is the foundational principle of corporate law.

This concept means that people can invest in a company without risking personal assets beyond their investment (i.e., shares in the corporation). For example, the victim can only sue the corporation, not the individual shareholders if a corporation fails to observe proper safety precautions in manufacturing a product. This benefit is especially important for closely held corporations, like Hobby Lobby, because any liability would otherwise be shared by a small number of family members or other controlling shareholders. In exchange for this protection, individual owners are not supposed to treat a corporation as a mere extension of themselves.

Under the new decision, religious owners of closely-held, for-profit companies try to have it both ways. They get to assert their personal religious identity to exclude legally mandated birth-control benefits from their company’s health insurance plan. Yet they hope they also will still enjoy the insulation against personal economic liability that comes from doing business as a corporation.

The problem with this is that is that one cannot really have things both ways: one must either function as a corporate entity which is separate from the personal interests of the shareholder or accept full liability for the corporation.  In other words, this decision will “pierce of the corporate veil”, which is where the the rights or duties of a corporation switch to the rights or liabilities of its shareholders.  In other words, Plaintiffs may seek to have owners personally cover a corporate debt when a business goes bust, for example, or to hold a corporation responsible when an owner doesn’t have the money to pay their personal bills.

While I understand that the chickens have begun to come home to roost with this decision, this aspect has yet to rear its ugly face.  I have a feeling that when it does, the reality challenged right wing will find yet another aspect of its ideology influenced policy making will prove to be another golem for them to have to address.

Ruh ROHHH!

About 'Assault Weapons'

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Just Sayin'

Independence Day / American history quiz answers

Answers appear in red
1. How many states in the U.S.?
a. 50
b. 51.
c. 46

'c.' is the more correct answer; 4 of the original 15 states to join or become the United States are technically commonwealths: Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Kentucky.

(yes - it IS a trick question! so are some of the others)

2. The first U.S. President was:
a. George Washington
b. Peyton Randolph
c. John Hancock

Peyton Randolph was the first person to hold the title of U.S. President, presiding over the Continental Congress, referring to the nation formed by the confederation of states.  George Washington held the title President of the United States, which refers to the nation under the governance of the subsequent U.S. Constitution.

3. How many U.S. Presidents were there between  September 1774 and November 1788?
a.   3
b.   9
c. 14

Peyton Randolph was the first of these U.S. Presidents under the authority of the Continental Congresses and the Articles of Confederation.  The subsequently reformed/reorganized nation began after 1788, with Washington as the first president.

4. The UK has commonwealths, like the nations of Canada and Australia. 
Does the U.S. have any commonwealths?  If so, how many and what are their names? 4. See above.  As noted in the wikipedia entry:
This designation, which has no legal impact, emphasizes that they have a "government based on the common consent of the people" as opposed to one legitimized through their earlier royal colony status that was derived from the monarch of Great Britain. The word commonwealth in this context refers to the common "wealth", or welfare, of the public and is derived from a loose translation of the Latin term res publica (cf. the 17th-century Commonwealth of England).
The use of the term also derives from the use of English common law in colonial America.

5.The War of 1812 started in 1812; what year did it end?
a. 1815
b. 1814
c. 1812

6. Who declared war on whom in that war?
a. France declared war on the British (and we joined in, on the side of the French by treaty, but did not actually declare war)
b. the U.S. declared war on the British
c. Spain declared war on the British over Florida, and we tried to take it from both of them while they were fighting each other


 7. What is the "Chowder and marching club" group in Congress, and when was it started?
A Republican group in Congress formed after WW II. 
From the History, Art and Archives of the House of Representatives:


In an institution where legislative victories are often stitched together with shifting blocs, coalitions, and alliances, it isn’t surprising that most Members of Congress are joiners. For new Representatives particularly, membership in caucuses and other informal clubs and groups fills a yearning to belong, to swap legislative strategies freely, to learn the chamber’s folkways and norms, and, sometimes, simply to socialize.
After World War II, a cadre of Republican up-and-comers in the House formed a group that embodied these impulses to join and make a mark: the Chowder and Marching Club (C&M). “All of us were young, all of us were new members of Congress. All of us were veterans of World War II,” Richard Nixon of California, a charter member, explained years later. “We were concerned about the strength of the United States and we were concerned about how we could help secure peace.”
C&M coalesced in 1949 out of opposition to a veterans’ pension bill pushed by the autocratic chairman of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, John Rankin of Mississippi, during the 81st Congress (1949–1951). Rankin wanted to cut generous $90 monthly checks to First and Second World War veterans older than 65; the first-year cost was $2 billion and thereafter soared higher. Opponents like Glenn Davis of Wisconsin, a member of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, and Don Jackson of California, questioned the need and price tag. Both former U.S. servicemen organized 13 other Republican colleagues (indeed, most were young veterans)—in Jackson’s words—to “get some fellows together to see what their attitudes are, and what might be done about this legislation.” Jackson hosted the first gathering in his office on a Wednesday afternoon at 5 p.m., after the conclusion of legislative business. C&M eventually helped to defeat the Rankin bill (by a single vote) and a longstanding tradition was started.



 8.  Yankee Doodle Dandy was another patriotic American song, also written by the British along with dancing, to mock the colonists.  It subsequently became a battle tune for Washington and his troops, to mock the Brits.  And then in 1904, George M. Cohan wrote a Broadway musical, "Little Johnny Jones" in which he updated the tune and music as "Yankee Doodle Boy".  True or false, the tune was actually a British drinking song 'stolen' by the American revolutionaries?

Originally used by Brits to mock revolutionary Americans, Americans picked it up, changed some of the lyrics, and used it to mock the Brits.

9. Yankee Doodle was also a northern/ Union Civil War song, with changes to the earlier lyrics, True or False?
There were many lyrics over time and during the same time, but 'yank' came to mean northener, usually specifically New Englander, in the 19th century, where before it meant all Americans - and still does in some usage.

10.  The Pennamite - Yankee War was an actual "shooting war" that ended in 1799, although the Continental Congress tried to end it in 1782.  Who was that war between?
a. New York and Pennsylvania
b. Pennsylvania and the Pennamite Indians
c. Connecticut, Vermont (briefly), and Pennsylvania

 11.  Yankee appears to have been a word used originally as an insult by Dutch colonists for the English colonists as far back as the latter 1600's and then by the English towards the Dutch, and then by the English towards Americans, during the American Revolution and the War of 1812 onwards.
Americans first applied the term "Damned Yankees" as a disparaging term towards their fellow Americans :
 a. Civil War southerners towards northerners
 b. disgruntled Texans after joining the United States as the 28th state in 1845
 c. disgruntled sports fans towards the New York baseball team in the mid- 20th century, following the book, Broadway musical and movie

12.  In 1803, President Thomas Jefferson made the Louisiana Purchase, buying land which subsequently became  all or part of  16 states comprising the central United States sometimes referred to as 'Tornado Alley".  One point for every one of the 15 states correctly named. (some states are partial)

In no particular order:
Louisiana (obviously), 
Arkansas, 
Iowa,
Minnesota,
North and South Dakota,
Colorado,
Missouri,
Kansas,
Nebraska,
Oklahoma,
Texas (northern),
New Mexico
Montana
Wyoming


13.  Florida became the 27th state of the Union in 1845, but the area of that state became U.S. territory because of a treaty related to the Louisiana purchase, through the Adams - Onis treaty of 1819.  The treaty not only settled through diplomacy and treaty who got Florida, but also settled and ceded large parts of the U.S., expanding it from the western boundaries of the Louisiana purchase all the way to the Pacific Ocean.

Which Adams of the early political dynastic Adams family negotiated the treaty, and with what country? (hint - he also negotiated the end of the war of 1812)

a. John Adams with France
b. John Quincy Adams with Spain (while Secretary of State) 
He also settled and established our border with Canada, the part where it becomes a mostly straight line all the way across to the Pacific Ocean
c. Charles Francis Adams (son of John Quincy, grandson of John Adams) with Mexico

14. - 20. Pretty much everyone knows about the Civil War in the mid-19th century.  The deep southern states from Virginia to Texas, attempted to nullify their membership in the United States through armed rebellion, and to thereby secede (as distinct from the legitimate process of secession under the Constitution).  Virginia and Kentucky had promoted the idea of nullification, in 1798-99 but not attacked the United States. South Carolina initiated that first treasonous act of armed rebellion by firing on Fort Sumter, but had previously attempted the failed effort at nullification creating the Nullification Crisis of 1832, over tariffs, which laid the ground work for the actions of the south in the Civil War and the conservative issue of states rights, which continues into the 21st century.
Secession, states rights, and the sovereign citizens movement continue from those issues and incidents through our modern era.

14. States rights advocates are or have been colloquially referred to as:
a. quids
b. 98s
c. tenthers
d. secessionists
e. sovereign citizens
f. all of the above

15. The resolutions of 1798 and 1799 were secretly written by then Vice President Thomas Jefferson for Kentucky, and James Madison for Virginia.  Nullification is refuted by what part of the Constitution?
a. Supremacy Clause
b. Enumerated Powers
c. Preamble
d. all of the above

16. The resolutions and the subsequent Nullification Act of South Carolina relied on the compact theory and the theory of state interposition.  Compact theory presumes the Constitution is a 'compact' between the states, which the states can break or end, and 'interposition', that the states hold a position between the federal government and the people.  One of the opposing arguments is that, under the U.S. Constitution, the nation was formed by the will of the people, not individual states as was the case with the earlier Articles of Confederation. 

This refutation is based on what parts of the Constitution:
a. Preamble and Article III (preamble establishes the nation is formed by 'we the people' not the individual states; Article III establishes the judicial branch, and sets the SCOTUS as the determining body for what is and is not Constitutional, not the states)
b. Supremacy Clause
c. 14th Amendment and the Incorporation Doctrine
d. all of the above

17. We tend to think of the U.S. as having a two-party system.  John Quincy Adams negotiated the resolution to the Nullification Crisis of 1832 through legislation; which of the following political parties did he belong to during his presidency?
a. Federalist party
b. Democratic-Republican party
c. National Republican party
d. Anti-Masonic party
e.Whig party
f. all of the above
g. none of the above

18. There were key differences between the Articles of Confederation established by the Continental Congress, notably that the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union defined the United States as a confederation of states.  The Articles of Confederation also defined the chief executive as the President, but the office was more similar to that the current speaker of the House of Representatives.   Who was the first President under the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, and how many were there before the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union were replaced?
a. Peyton Randolph of Virginia, first of 14 Presidents
b. John Hancock, first of 20 Presidents
c. Cyrus Griffin, first of 6 Presidents

19.  George Washington was elected unanimously as the President of the Constitutional Convention in 1787 to repair and replace the failures of the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union.  In what two years was he first elected President of the United States?
a. 1781 and 1785
b.  1792 and 1796
c. 1788 and 1792

20. Although not an official party member, President George Washington was associated with the Federalist party.  True or false, the Jeffersonian party delayed the beginning of the Washington monument, even though Congress had authorized it after Washington died in 1799, because they had distrusted Washington, much like the modern Republicans and Tea partiers distrust and obstruct President Obama?

Bonus question:
What was George Washington's middle name?
a. Henry
b. Thomas
c.  Fairfax
d. none of the above - he had no middle name

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Star Spangled Banner Quiz (answers posted Monday July 7th)

1. The words to our National Anthem, the Star Spangled Banner were written 200 years by Francis Scott Keyes, during a naval bombardment of what fort defending what city in what state?
a. Boston, Fort Adams, Massachusetts
b. Fort McHenry, Baltimore, Maryland
c. Fort Ticonderoga, no city, New York


2. What body of water was Keyes sailing on as he watched the battle?
a. Boston Harbor
b. New York City Harbor
c. Chesapeake Bay

3. The music of our national anthem was a well-known drinking song, written in England for what was called then a 'gentleman's club', the Anacreontic Society,   by teen ager John Stafford Smith.  It was popular roughly ten years before the American Revolution.  The Anacreontic Society was a:
a. music society
b. gay men's organization for celebrating and promoting clothing fashions,    (especially hats)
c. chowder & marching club

4. From 1774 into the 19th century, the U.S. did not have an official national anthem although the Star Spangled Banner sometimes served as the unofficial anthem. Before becoming the national anthem, it was the official music for a branch of the military. Which one was it?
a. Army
b. Navy
c. Marines
d. Air Force

5. The Star Spangled Banner was written during the War of 1812. In what year did it become the OFFICIAL national anthem?
a. 1848
b. 1915
c. 1931

6. The War of 1812 started in 1812; what year did it end?
a. 1815
b. 1814
c. 1812

7. A famous cartoonist drew attention to the lack of a national anthem, leading to the Star Spangled Banner being selected. Which cartoonist was it?
a. Al Capp
b. Robert Ripley
c. Rube Goldberg

8. The tradition of playing the national anthem before sporting events started with what sport, during what war?
a. polo, Civil War
b. bicycle races, Spanish- American war
c. horse racing, WW I
d. baseball, WW II

9. There was no official, standard version of the music. Which famous composer helped write the definitive form of the tune?
a. John Phillip Sousa
b. John Williams
c. Stephen Foster

10. United States Code 36 U.S.C. § 301 (yup - it's the LAW!) requires anyone not in military uniform to stand and hold their right hand over their heart when the national anthem is played. This law was written to show a standardized form of respect for the anthem and the nation, but also because another, more embarrassing gesture was associated with the official performances of the anthem. Which one was it that was replaced?
a. raised fist, showing anti-government protests
b. praying hands, considered too religious
c. right arm pointing to the flag, too similar to the Hitler salute
d. holding their hand up, arm bent at the elbow, as in swearing the oath to tell the truth in court, took up too much room in crowded bleachers



Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy 4th of July quiz about the U.S.A.


Quiz answers will be published sometime Sunday!



1. How many states in the U.S.?
a. 50
b. 51.
c. 46

(yes - it IS a trick question! so are some of the others)

2. The first U.S. President was:
a. George Washington
b. Peyton Randolph
c. John Hancock

3. How many U.S. Presidents were there between  September 1774 and November 1788?
a.   3
b.   9
c. 14

4. The UK has commonwealths, like the nations of Canada and Australia. 
Does the U.S. have any commonwealths?  If so, how many and what are their names?

5.The War of 1812 started in 1812; what year did it end?
a. 1815
b. 1814
c. 1812

6. Who declared war on whom in that war?
a. France declared war on the British (and we joined in, on the side of the French by treaty, but did not actually declare war)
b. the U.S. declared war on the British
c. Spain declared war on the British over Florida, and we tried to take it from both of them while they were fighting each other


 7. What is the "Chowder and marching club" group in Congress, and when was it started?



 8.  Yankee Doodle Dandy was another patriotic American song, also written by the British along with dancing, to mock the colonists.  It subsequently became a battle tune for Washington and his troops, to mock the Brits.  And then in 1904, George M. Cohan wrote a Broadway musical, "Little Johnny Jones" in which he updated the tune and music as "Yankee Doodle Boy".  True or false, the tune was actually a British drinking song 'stolen' by the American revolutionaries?


9. Yankee Doodle was also a northern/ Union Civil War song, with changes to the earlier lyrics, True or False?

10.  The Pennamite - Yankee War was an actual "shooting war" that ended in 1799, although the Continental Congress tried to end it in 1782.  Who was that war between?
a. New York and Pennsylvania
b. Pennsylvania and the Pennamite Indians
c. Connecticut, Vermont, and Pennsylvania

 11.  Yankee appears to have been a word used originally as an insult by Dutch colonists for the English colonists as far back as the latter 1600's and then by the English towards the Dutch, and then by the English towards Americans, during the American Revolution and the War of 1812 onwards.
Americans first applied the term "Damned Yankees" as a disparaging term towards their fellow Americans :
 a. Civil War southerners towards northerners
 b. disgruntled Texans after joining the United States as the 28th state in 1845
 c. disgruntled sports fans towards the New York baseball team in the mid- 20th century, following the book, Broadway musical and movie

12.  In 1803, President Thomas Jefferson made the Louisiana Purchase, buying land which subsequently became  all or part of  16 states comprising the central United States sometimes referred to as 'Tornado Alley".  One point for every one of the 15 states correctly named.

13.  Florida became the 27th state of the Union in 1845, but the area of that state became U.S. territory because of a treaty related to the Louisiana purchase, through the Adams - Onis treaty of 1819.  The treaty not only settled through diplomacy and treaty who got Florida, but also settled and ceded large parts of the U.S. from the western boundaries of the Louisiana purchase all the way to the Pacific Ocean.

Which Adams of the early political dynastic Adams family negotiated the treaty, and with what country? (hint - he also negotiated the end of the war of 1812)

a. John Adams with France
b. John Quincy Adams with Spain
c. Charles Francis Adams (son of John Quincy, grandson of John Adams) with Mexico

14. - 20. Pretty much everyone knows about the Civil War in the mid-19th century.  The deep southern states from Virginia to Texas, attempted to nullify their membership in the United States through armed rebellion, and to thereby secede (as distinct from the legitimate process of secession under the Constitution).  Virginia and Kentucky had promoted the idea of nullification, in 1798-99 but not attacked the United States. South Carolina initiated that first treasonous act of armed rebellion by firing on Fort Sumter, but had previously attempted the failed effort at nullification creating the Nullification Crisis of 1832, over tariffs, which laid the ground work for the actions of the south in the Civil War and the conservative issue of states rights, which continues into the 21st century.
Secession, states rights, and the sovereign citizens movement continue from those issues and incidents through our modern era.

14. States rights advocates are or have been colloquially referred to as:
a. quids
b. 98s
c. tenthers
d. secessionists
e. sovereign citizens
f. all of the above

15. The resolutions of 1798 and 1799 were secretly written by then Vice President Thomas Jefferson for Kentucky, and James Madison for Virginia.  Nullification is refuted by what part of the Constitution?
a. Supremacy Clause
b. Enumerated Powers
c. Preamble
d. all of the above

16. The resolutions and the subsequent Nullification Act of South Carolina relied on the compact theory and the theory of state interposition.  Compact theory presumes the Constitution is a 'compact' between the states, which the states can break or end, and 'interposition', that the states hold a position between the federal government and the people.  One of the opposing arguments is that, under the U.S. Constitution, the nation was formed by the will of the people, not individual states as was the case with the earlier Articles of Confederation. 

This refutation is based on what parts of the Constitution:
a. Preamble and Article III
b. Supremacy Clause
c. 14th Amendment and the Incorporation Doctrine
d. all of the above

17. We tend to think of the U.S. as having a two-party system.  John Quincy Adams negotiated the resolution to the Nullification Crisis of 1832 through legislation; which of the following political parties did he belong to during his presidency?
a. Federalist party
b. Democratic-Republican party
c. National Republican party
d. Anti-Masonic party
e.Whig party
f. all of the above
g. none of the above

18. There were key differences between the Articles of Confederation established by the Continental Congress, notably that the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union defined the United States as a confederation of states.  The Articles of Confederation also defined the chief executive as the President, but the office was more similar to that the current speaker of the House of Representatives.   Who was the first President under the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, and how many were there before the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union were replaced?
a. Peyton Randolph of Virginia, first of 14 Presidents
b. John Hancock, first of 20 Presidents
c. Cyrus Griffin, first of 6 Presidents

19.George Washington was elected unanimously as the President of the Constitutional Convention in 1787 to repair and replace the failures of the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union.  In what two years was he first elected President of the United States?
a. 1781 and 1785
b.& 1792 and 1796
c. 1788 and 1792

20. Although not an official party member, President George Washington was associated with the Federalist party.  True or false, the Jeffersonian party delayed the beginning of the Washington monument, even though Congress had authorized it after Washington died in 1799, because they had distrusted Washington, much like the modern Republicans and Tea partiers distrust President Obama?

Bonus question:
What was George Washington's middle name?
a. Henry
b. Thomas
c. Fairfax
d. none of the above - he had no middle name


Nine nine nine......ah, who does THAT remind us of, Herman........

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Just Sayin'


Hobby Lobby - controlling and greedy, intrusive and oppressive

The Religious Right ARE NOT PIUS BELIEVERS, they are intolerant bigots and hypocrites

Ah, good Christian Conservative meme, 'Mrs. Betty Bowers'

New York man walks in, asks for job, starts shooting

http://www.animationplaza.com/4/animations/war/guns/beretta_firing_ha.gif

ONLY in the crazy world of the failure of gun culture fetishist do you take a gun to a job interview.

ONLY in the crazy world of the gun culture fetishist do businesses have to tolerate idiots with guns on their premises as routine, no matter how dangerous -- and of course the gun fetishists are in total denial about their lack of safety or absence of sound judgement.

Firearms are an impulsive weapon in the crimes of murder/suicide.  Without those weapons, far fewer of those crimes occur because of that contribution of impulse.

From Raw Story:

NY man walks into business for a job, shoots two workers and himself when he doesn’t get it

A New York man who walked into a business looking for a job on Monday shot two workers, and then turned the gun on himself when he did not immediately get it.

According to the PIX11, 54-year-old Cameron Waithe asked Oscar Ramirez for a job just after walking into C&A Iron Works in Brooklyn at around 11 a.m. on Monday.
“Oscar said he should go talk to the manager,” employee Marcos Chantes told the New York Post.

Company manager, Joselo Gonzalez, then directed Waithe upstairs where he could talk to the owner of the company.

“I see him looking nervous,” Chantes recalled. “He’s looking behind his back like someone is looking for him.”

That’s when Waithe pulled out a gun and took aim at Ramirez.

“Oscar said, ‘Hey, hey, what’s happening?’ And he just shot him,”
Chantes explained. “I ran and started yelling, ‘Everyone get out, get
out.’”

Waithe fired his gun eight times over the next ten minutes. Ramirez
fled the building after being shot in the stomach, and 66-year-old
employee Armando Tapia was also hit.

For hours after that, the shooter sat barricaded in an office with a
gun to his head, while NYPD negotiator Lt. Jack Cambria said that he had “positive” negotiations. Waithe agreed to give up his car keys, and a bomb-like device during the talks.
"We engaged in dialogue and then, unprovoked, he shot himself,” Cambria remarked.

Ramirez was taken to Lutheran Medical Center, where he was listed in
critical condition. Tapia was reportedly also at Lutheran Medical Center in stable condition.

Police said that Waithe had a criminal history that included assault,
criminal possession of marijuana and resisting arrest. But his friends
and family were shocked to learn of the incident.

No mention of mental illness; this was just a bloody-minded asshole with a gun that he could acquire far too easily.

Remember - within a year of a criminal conviction for marijuana possession, no record would remain on the NICS data base.

Thank the NRA and gun fanatics for that contribution to gun violence. 

That is IF his name was ever submitted to the NICS data base in the first place -- more than half the names who should be in the national data base are NOT.

Thank the NRA and gun fanatics for that contribution to gun violence.

So long as the resisting arrest crime was plea-bargained down to a misdemeanor, in spite of it being a violent crime, it would not prevent him from legally buying a firearm from an FFL seller.

Thank the NRA and gun fanatics for that contribution to gun violence.

Think about, as well, the cost of law enforcement, the danger to law enforcement, and the hospitalization costs for NOTHING OF VALUE because of this jerk having easy access to firearms.

Think about, as well, the cost of the lost productivity of these workers, the loss to this business, and the costs of hospitalization and possibly physical and psychological therapy as a result of this shooting --- all for NOTHING OF VALUE because of the obsession with violence and firearms by a segment of our society.

Guns should be much harder to acquire and own.

Guns should be much harder to use, like the smart/safe guns that only permit the legal user to fire it.

Gun ownership should be mandated to require insurance coverage, for liability, for the damages that gun owners do.

And no -- where there is stricter gun ownership regulation, there are FEWER criminals with guns, and law enforcement is at less risk, and there is less cost associated with gun violence as well.

New York has excellent gun laws; the problem firearms come from out of state, from those states with LAX gun laws.

We need national regulation that prevents the people in the "bad gun law states" from victimizing the people across the nation, including those in the "good gun law" states like New York by providing, selling, and/or transporting guns that would otherwise be prohibited to people who would otherwise be prohibited from acquiring them.