Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.

Posts tagged “US Politics

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The only authenticated image of Abraham Lincoln at the Gettysburg Address; November 19, 1863

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President Lyndon B. Johnson holds his dog “Her” by the ears as his other dog “Him” looks on, the White House lawns; April 27, 1964

To be fair Lyndon Johnson wasn't all that nice to humans, either.

Him and Her, the most well known of the President Johnson’s dogs, were registered beagles born on June 27, 1963. The President frequently played with the dogs and was often photographed with them. In 1964, President Johnson raised the ire of many when he lifted Him by his ears while greeting a group on the White House lawn.

Her died at the White House in November 1964, after she swallowed a stone. Him died in June 1966, when he was hit by a car while chasing a squirrel on the White House. (Source)


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Funeral ceremony of Jefferson Davis, New Orleans, outside City Hall on St. Charles Avenue; ca. 1889.

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US Marine raising the Confederate battle flag after the Battle of Okinawa; June 22nd, 1945.

Just think, this was only 80 years after the end of the civil war.

Just think, this was only 80 years after the end of the civil war.

Once the castle had been taken, Dusenberg took off his helmet and removed a flag he had been carrying for just such a special occasion. He raised the flag at the highest point of the castle and let loose with a rebel yell. The flag waving overhead was not the Stars and Stripes, but the Confederate Stars and Bars. Most of the Marines joined in the yell, but a disapproving New Englander supposedly remarked, “What does he want now? Should we sing ‘Dixie?'”

MG Andrew Bruce, the commanding general of the 77th Division, protested to the 10th Army that the Marines had stolen his prize. But LTG Buckner only mildly chided MajGen del Valle saying, “How can I be sore at him? My father fought under that flag!”

LTG Buckner’s father was the Confederate BG Buckner who had surrendered Fort Donelson to then-BG Ulysses S. Grant in 1862.

(Source)

*Well, if I ever go to war I’ll bring the flag of the US Fish and Wildlife Service. I’ll die waving that flag!


A Japanese cherry tree hacked down with the words “To hell with those Japanese” carved into it three days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor at the Tidal Basin, Washington, D.C.; December 10th, 1941.

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“In 1912 Japan sent 3,020 cherry trees to the United States as a gift of friendship. First Lady Taft and the Viscountess Chinda, wife of the Japanese Ambassador, planted the first two cherry trees on the northern bank of the Tidal Basin.”

(Source)

I guess whoever felled the tree knew the symbolism.


“The Class the Stars Fell On,” West Point’s Class of 1915; May 3, 1915.

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Out of 164 graduates, 59 earned at least one star, the most of any class in the history of the US Military Academy. Circled are the two 5 star generals, Dwight Eisenhower (left) and Omar Bradley (right).


The rarely seen back of the Hoover Dam before it filled with water; ca. 1936.

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And here’s the view from the other side:

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There were 112 deaths associated with the construction of the dam. Included in that total was J. G. Tierney, a surveyor who drowned on December 20, 1922, while looking for an ideal spot for the dam. He is generally counted as the first man to die in the construction of Hoover Dam. His son, Patrick W. Tierney, was the last man to die working on the dam’s construction, 13 years to the day later.

*Here’s an actual aerial photo from 1950:

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Who won the War of 1812?

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Officially, the US went to war due to the British not respecting US citizenship when pressing sailors into service in the Royal Navy. The British claimed that any British subject was eligible for impressment (ie forced conscription) and that any man born a British subject continued to be a British subject. This included a sizable portion of the US population of the time, as many had been born before the peace treaty of 1782 and thus theoretically had been born as British subjects. Emigres were also subject to this treatment, and there were occasions where Royal Navy officers did not give a damn and just impressed American citizens who had never been British subjects.

Unofficially, the war hawks wanted to see an annexation of British North America (Canada). [The subject was openly debated in the US before the war. Jefferson claimed the conquest of Quebec was “a mere matter of marching” while Clay openly said that militiamen from Kentucky on their own could capture Upper Canada. Major General Brock certainly knew the war was coming, prepared accordingly and knew the US would invade Canada. In fact, his intelligence was so good that he got news of the war before the US troops across the border, something which he used for a surprise attack.]

The US invasions of Canada failed, the British hunted down or blockaded the US navy (a few frigates managed to slip out and the USS Constitution had some spectacular victories) and blockaded the US East Coast, preventing trade and causing widespread discontent, especially in the maritime-dependent New England states, who seriously started to discuss secession from the US.

The peace treaty at Ghent 1814 did not include any gains for the US – at least not officially. The treaty included no provision that the Royal Navy was to respect US citizenship, however, the end of the Napoleonic War had led the British to stop impressment from foreign vessels anyway, so the goal was achieved, king of.

British North America remained in British hands, and eventually became Canada, independent from the US.

The British war goals were to get the US to stop fighting them, without giving anything away, as they had bigger problems back home with Napoleon running rampant all over Europe, in which they succeeded.

The US war goals, to force the British to accept US citizenship as immunity to impressment was achieved, although not officially, while Canada remained unconquered.

While the US did not lose territory, I’d say they lost the war as they were unable to achieve the goals they went to war over. The British, while not gaining anything, did achieve their war goal.

So, it is either a draw (neither side lost anything) or a British victory (as they achieved their war goals and the US did not).


What is Fascism? (…from the realm of psychology)

It’s hard to define fascist political opinion or fascist ideology because it was, and is, such an un-ideological, anti-rational movement. That’s because, at heart, fascism is an emotional movement. If you look at the famous fascist manifestos, they’re not full of policy prescriptions: they’re an airing of grievances.

Dr. Robert Altemeyer has surveyed huge numbers of people, and other researchers have followed up on his work by cross-checking his surveys against neuro-psychology, and they’ve concluded that right-wing authoritarianism, or fascism, is a psychological phenomenon, driven by three things:

  • Fear of filth and impurity
  • Fear of change from “ancient tradition”
  • Obsession with unambiguously knowing one’s place in any hierarchy

Neurophysiologists who’ve studied the brains of people who self-identify as far-right or fascist have argued that you can simplify the first two points: a fascist is someone who has an exaggerated emotional reaction of disgust when confronted with the possibility of anything “clean” coming in contact with anything “unclean.” Hence the fascist obsession with the word “purity:” ethnic purity, religious purity, artistic purity, national purity, sexual purity, cultural purity, etc.

There’s an old saying: “If you put one drop of water in 5000 gallons of sewage, you have 5000 gallons of sewage. If you put one drop of sewage in 5000 gallons of water, you have 5000 gallons of sewage.” It’s not actually literally true, not universally, anyway; that reaction to “even one drop” of impurity is one of the two impulses that drives some people into fascism.

The other one is hierarchy. A fascist is someone who believes that no two people anywhere ever are equal, let alone any more people than that, and that anybody who says otherwise is sneakily trying to trick you so they can get power over you. A fascist is someone who wants to know who are the (many) people who have to obey them and who are the (few) people they have to obey, and they want that as unambiguous as possible.

And implicit in that second point is militarist imperialism. First of all, there’s an obsessive love of military life and military rank, because the military teaches people to live in and trust an unambiguous hierarchy. The military is also the instrument that settles, among nations, which nations have to obey which other nations.


“One of the 1.7 million Germans killed during the Great War”; ca.1917

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The way they searched for dead bodies following the First World War was seriously revolting. A Company of Soldiers would be deployed in Line abreast, armed with 6 foot long metal spikes. They would then observe the ground to their front, anywhere the vegetation looked particularly green and lively, they would stab the spike into the ground as deep as possible, then rip it out and sniff the end. If it smelled of decomposing flesh, they dug.

And sometimes they didn’t even do THAT. I remember reading an officer’s account of experiencing a heavy barrage. He mentions entering a dugout at the beginning of the barrage and noticing the heavily decomposed body of a French soldier, in the old-style uniform (red pantaloons), sticking out of the side of the trench. After a couple of hours, he emerged to find the decomposed body of a German soldier in the same place. The shells had churned up the ground, re-burying the French soldier and bringing up the German.