Wednesday, September 30, 2009

You Know That Society Is Doomed . . .

When Rush Limbaugh blames President Obama for a bunch of white kids beating up a black kid on a school bus. (As if that wasn't bad enough, the story wasn't true.)

When drug cops have a blast playing Wii in a home that they busted.

When a pilot is arrested for stalking an ex-girlfriend by flying over her house.

When robbers interrupt a couple's sexcapade in a dumpster.

When a teenager uses a page from his Bible to roll a joint. (Giving new meaning to the term holy roller.)

When brazen diners are stealing restaurants' decors.

When firefighters run over the victim they were dispatched to help.

When a police chief in a stocking mask prompts a high school lockdown.

When the First Lady is criticized for saying that health-care reform is a women's issue. (Damned right it is if your insurer says that having a womb is a pre-existing condition.)

When a high school teacher gives her students booze and pot for doing chores for her.

When a coach is shot by one of his players during an argument over his low batting average.

When a navy admiral says women should be able to serve on submarines.

When a man is pushed into a window and falls 20 feet to his death while
re-enacting a move from Ultimate Fighting Championship. (If you think that alcohol was involved, you're right.)

When a man is arrested for trading his father's Lincoln for $50 worth of crack.

When environmental groups complain that people are too nice to their bottoms.

When a gay bar demands that the ID cards of crossdressers match their "gender presentation."

When the black Republican party chairman accuses the black
president of trying to get the beyond piss poor New York governor to not run for re-election because he's black. (Cue "Calling the Kettle Black" jokes.)

When a boy fakes a kidnapping to avoid bringing home bad grades.

When nearly two-thirds of those surveyed in a poll think Republicans are opposing Obama on health-care reform for political reasons but nearly two-thirds also think Democrats shouldn't pass reform without Republican support.

When men are arrested for showing porn on the display TV sets at a Wal-Mart.

When men toss a beer keg out of a car during a 120 mile per hour police chase. (It was empty. Nobody got hurt.)

When a man is arrested after firing a cannonball through a neighbor's house.

When a Faux News talk-show host throws a plastic frog into a pot of boiling water to prove that John McCain would have slowly boiled us alive while Obama's agenda is so hot that we jump out of the pot.

When a cat is found wrapped in duct tape.

When students use a samurai sword to fend off an attacker. (They did such a good job that he's dead.)

Click here, here, here, here, here, here and here for previous installments of You Know Society Is Doomed. Hat tip to Obscure Store for many of the links.

Cartoon du Jour

Ben Sargent/Universal Press Syndicate

Another Big Lie From The Sarahcudda

Has Sarah Palin ever been honest about anything? Certainly not since she erupted into national prominence as the running mate in John McCain's star-crossed campaign.

The Sarahcudda's sudden announcement in June that she was resigning as Alaska
governor so she could devote lots of time to studying major policy issues was bound to be yet another falsehood. And was, because we now learn that she has spent the last four months -- which is to say May to August -- working with a ghost writer on Going Rogue, a memwow that will be published on November 17, earning her a reported $7 million advance, I predict without fear of contradiction, doing zilch to burnish her nonexistent policy credentials.


* Palin apparently is proving to be a tough sell on the speakers'
circuit, which she asks $100,000 per pop. This, according to one anonymoose, is because "the big lecture buyers in the U.S. are paralyzed with fear about booking her, basically because they think she is a blithering idiot."

* R
iddle me this: How can Palin have such stratospherically high negative ratings, but Republican leaders still love her?

* And although it kind of pains me to even go there, questions continue to persist about Palin's last pregnancy.

You Just Can't Make This Stuff Up

Need further evidence that the predominately older male members of the Greatest Deliberative Body in the World are taking something other than Viagra? How about these snippets from the health-care reform debate yesterday:

Ben Nelson, faux Democrat of Nebraska, seems to have forgotten that there was an election only last November in which voters resoundingly called for reform when he suggested that a discussion of stuff like a public option be put off until after the 2010 election.

* John Ensign, real Republican of Utah, responding to the spot-on assertion that the health-care systems in many industrialized countries deliver more effective care at lower costs, replied that the U.S. actually does better when you don't count injuries from guns and car accidents.

Yeah, I know that the Finance Committee voted down public option amendments, but I'm still sticking to my guns.

This Is Not About Polanski's Movies

The uproar over Roman Polanski's pending extradition to the U.S. defies logic. That is unless you are French or something. Kate Harding reminds us over at Salon that he is being extradited because he raped a child:
Let's just start right there, because that's the detail that tends to get neglected when we start discussing whether it was fair for the bail-jumping director to be arrested at age 76, after 32 years in "exile" (which in this case means owning multiple homes in Europe, continuing to work as a director, marrying and fathering two children, even winning an Oscar, but never -- poor baby -- being able to return to the U.S.). Let's keep in mind that Roman Polanski gave a 13-year-old girl a Quaalude and champagne, then raped her, before we start discussing whether the victim looked older than her 13 years, or that she now says she'd rather not see him prosecuted because she can't stand the media attention. Before we discuss how awesome his movies are or what the now-deceased judge did wrong at his trial, let's take a moment to recall that according to the victim's grand jury testimony, Roman Polanski instructed her to get into a jacuzzi naked, refused to take her home when she begged to go, began kissing her even though she said no and asked him to stop; performed cunnilingus on her as she said no and asked him to stop; put his penis in her vagina as she said no and asked him to stop; asked if he could penetrate her anally, to which she replied, "No," then went ahead and did it anyway, until he had an orgasm.
Got that? Oh, and one other thing: Polanski pleaded guilty and then fled the U.S.

MILFs, Cougars & Pumas, Oh My!

Alyssa Rosenberg could write about the phone book and make it sound interesting, but she really excels at cultural stuff, most of which flies below this sixtysomething blogger's radar since I watch little teevee, webstream jazz, classic and rock radio, and am resolutely iPod and Tweeter free.

So I turned to Ms. R to comment on my Of MILFs, Cougars & Pumas post of the other day for her take on this phenomenon. And boy did she deliver. As an aside, Alyssa loves Charmed, which I also watch in re-runs and enjoy immensely not just because it is a favorite of the DF&C.
Photograph from Harlequeen

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Musings On William Safire & Wingnuttery

Make no mistake about it. Former Nixon speechwriter and longtime New York Times columnist William Safire was a wingnut, albeit one with a magnificent ear for language. But as I reflect on Safire's career following his death on Sunday, his form of wingnuttery seems more like a precocity to occasionally write outlandish things in the face of little or no evidence compared to his peers today on the lunatic fringe who fulminate and flail from the deep end of the pool but can't swim.

In his final years on the op-ed page, Safire clung tenaciously to the notion that there were links
between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda. The only evidence for that was an alleged meeting between Mohammed Atta (above), leader of the 9/11 hijackers, and Saddam's espionage chief in Prague, but that was more than enough for Safire to declare that an invasion of Iraq was just and overdue -- overdue because it didn't get underway until March 2003 after Safire had recycled the Atta story no fewer than eight times as he relentlessly banged his war drum.

Although the evidence that there was no link
between the strongman and the terrorist group was overwhelming and even George Bush was to back away from the claim, Safire never acknowledged that he was wrong in the years before he was put out to pasture as an op-ed columnist in 2005.

I guess that's pretty tame stuff compared to today's wackos, including members of
the Obama Birther School, which holds that the president is not an American citizen, was brainwashed at a Muslim madrassa, has secretly opened reeducation camps, is going to confiscate privately-owned guns, would convene death panels if his health-care reform plan passes, and so on and so forth.

There is one big difference between Safire and today's wackos: While he could be an
apologist for the Bush administration, he was not a party man and was a ferocious defender of civil liberties. Wingnuts today, of course, embrace only the civil liberties they like such as being able to take an assault rifle to a town hall meeting and then shout down a speaker with whom they disagree because freedom of speech should only be for right-wing bloviators.

With the passing of someone of Safire's stature it is customary to say that he will be missed. While I do feel bad for his wife and children and his "On Language" columns on popular etymology
in the New York Times Magazine were keepers, he dispensed an awful lot of bad advice that too many conservatives took to heart although he was right about never splitting infinitives.
Photograph by Pablo Martinez Monsivais/The Associated Press

Cartoon du Jour

Glenn McCoy/Universal Press Syndicate

Another Reason Not To Get A Tattoo

As noted here, I'm not into poking holes in one's space suit in general and tattoos in particular. While it probably is a generational thing, I find it to be an enormous turnoff when I come upon a young woman who is bending over, say, a delicatessen counter and a biblical quotation or winged tattoo emerges from her jeans just above her butt crack.
Now there's another reason, as well. A new study finds that there is all kinds of toxic crud in some tattoo inks, including cadmium, manganese, lead, antimony and mercury.

Crash Your Rolls Into A Tesco, Go To Jail

This English bloke expressed his displeasure with the Tesco supermarket chain by downing two bottles of whiskey and driving his 1983 Rolls through the store window. He's doing 16 months in the slammer; the car's fate is unknown.

Beautiful Photograph du Jour

(Toronto, 2009)
By Sam Javanrough

Monday, September 28, 2009

Of MILFs, Cougars & Pumas: A Social Phenom That Really Has . . . Uh, Legs

As social phenomenons go, the current obsession on television, in books and pornography with older women doing the wild thing with younger men strikes me as . . . well, probably inevitable.

I will admit to having had the raving hots for a 10th grade English teacher 30 years my senior and many a young man has felt all fuzzy wuzzy between the legs while fancying a roll in the hay with someone old enough to be Mrs. Oedipus. But all of a sudden you can't turn around without being smacked in the puss with the MILF phenomenon. (In the unlikely event that you don't know what the acronym stands for, you probably can figure it out.)

It's great that older moms have been elevated to new heights of bootyliciousness, although I've long found some of them to be attractive as hell and all the more so because they're . . . um, experienced. I know of what I speak having had a summer fling with a tres sexy older woman when I was in my early 20s who taught me things that are illegal in some states.

The MILF phenomenon is in no small part a result of American Pie, the semi-awful 1999 teen sexploitation pic that popularized the term, and later Desperate Housewives, the ABC comedy-drama that debuted in 2004 and has spawned a zillion largely mediocre offshoots. But at the risk of dating myself as being hopelessly over the hill, I think that it was The Graduate, the great 1967 comedy-drama co-starring the wonderfully seductive Ann Bancroft that really got this ball rolling.

The phenomenon does seem to have legs. I have seen several older moms proudly wearing t-shirts with themes like "I Know I'm Hot," as well as a younger one with a "MILF In Training" tank top that barely contained her surgically enhanced bazooms. This means a term that if used by a teenage boy not long ago would have gotten his mouth washed out with soap by his mom has officially entered the cultural mainstream.

One critic tried to get his hands around the phenomenon in reviewing Cougar Town, the new ABC sitcom starring Courtney Cox as Jules, a recently divorced hottie with a 17-year-old son who decides to spice up her dull existence by chasing young studs.

But the critic got it bass ackwards in asserting that older women today are more uncertain of themselves than ever, fearful of losing their sexuality and intimidated by all the young things around them whose social lives are one big orgasm. Puh-lease!

If that's the case, then I'm hanging out around the wrong shopping malls because the older unattached moms that I know seem quite certain of who they are, have fulfilling lives with challenging jobs (if not the best health insurance) and could care less about the Miley Cyrus lookalikes who will give a blowjob at the ring of an iPhone.

Then there is Weeds, the Showtime comedy-drama in which Mary Louise Parker plays Nancy, a widowed suburban mom who deals pot to keep up with the Joneses and her mortgage. And Eastwick, another loogie of a sitcom from ABC that is a takeoff on the Witches of Eastwick movies in which Rebecca Romijn plays Roxie, a witch-in-training with a young boyfriend.

While I can't speak for that Demi Moore, the goals of Jules, Roxie, Nancy and the moms on Wysteria Lane seem to be the same: Assert their sexual power on boy men who are least able to resist it. True romance is, of course, an afterthought.

No one would ever accuse television of providing good role models, but while the MILFs Do Prime Time phenomenon -- as well as the Cougar and Puma sub-genres -- may earn Nielsen points, it is an inapt way to stereotype older women.

Okay, maybe I need to lighten up. After all, society always seems to go to extremes when it comes to anything to do with sex. Then again . . .
Top photograph by Michael Desmond/ABC

'Stacy's Mom Has Got It Goin' On'

By Fountains of Wayne
Stacy's mom has got it goin' on
Stacy's mom has got it goin' on
Stacy's mom has got it goin' on
Stacy's mom has got it goin' on

Stacy, can I come over after school? (after school)
We can hang around by the pool (hang by the pool)
Did your mom get back from her business trip? (business trip)
Is she there, or is she trying to give me the slip? (give me the slip)

You know, I'm not the little boy that I used to be
I'm all grown up now, baby can't you see

Stacy's mom has got it goin' on
She's all I want and I've waited for so long
Stacy, can't you see you're just not the girl for me
I know it might be wrong but I'm in love with Stacy's mom

Stacy's mom has got it goin' on
Stacy's mom has got it goin' on

Stacy, do you remember when I mowed your lawn? (mowed your lawn)
Your mom came out with just a towel on (towel on)
I could tell she liked me from the way she stared (the way she stared)
And the way she said, "You missed a spot over there" (a spot over there)

And I know that you think it's just a fantasy
But since your dad walked out, your mom could use a guy like me

Stacy's mom has got it goin' on
She's all I want, and I've waited so long
Stacy, can't you see you're just not the girl for me
I know it might be wrong,
but I'm in love with Stacy's mom

Stacy's mom has got it goin' on
She's all I want and I've waited for so long,
Stacy can't you see your just not the girl for me,
I know it might be wrong but oh oh
(I know it might be wrong)
I'm in love with (Stacy's mom oh oh)
(Stacys mom oh oh)
I'm in love with Stacy's mom

Cartoon du Jour

Pat Oliphant/Universal Press Syndicate

You Commit This Crime You Do The Time

I have no special insight regarding the arrest of film director Roman Polanski in Switzerland on a 30-year-old charge that he drugged a 13-year-old girl in Los Angeles and then had sex with her.

Perhaps except this: If Polanski was trailer trash from
L.A. and had done the same thing he would not be treated with such deference by so many media mavens.

In my view, crimes against defenseless minors are among the most reprehensible. Drugging and forcing yourself on a child barely in her teens is an act of depravity that rightly should have no statute of limitations.

I don't care if the victim has since said she forgives Polanski. And spare me the false equivalency poop like defending child rape because torture is so much worse.

He Got Tired Of Losing To White People

Nothing has helped change white perceptions of blacks during my lifetime than The Cosby Show. During its eight-year run from 1984 to 1992 and constant reruns on Nick At Nite and elsewhere, Cliff and Clair Huxtable endlessly made the case for responsibility and self development with a mix of humor and sternness.

Since then, as
notes in a terrific piece at The Root, Bill Cosby's politics moved from the small screen to real life.
Photograph by Getty Images

Marijuana As The Next Prozac

As anyone who has smoked more than a joint or two of marijuana knows, it has wondrous therapeutic powers, including the ability to significantly reduce stress. So it's always interesting when a scientist confirms under laboratory conditions what millions of people have known for millennia.

Alas, pot is not about to replace Prozac although it is safer, cheaper and doesn't have nasty side effects. Like suicide.

Finding The Real Wizard Of Oz

I thought I knew a lot about The Wizard of Oz.
Until I read this.

Illustration by Charlie Powell

William Safire (1929-2009)

Photograph by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Lincoln's War Within The Civil War: The Bloody Dakota Indian Uprising Of 1852

As great a president as Abraham Lincoln may have been, he was astonishingly uninformed about some things, notably foreign relations. And closer to home, he knew virtually nothing about Native American affairs, an ignorance driven by the commonly held view that the U.S. government should disenfranchise Indians of their land because they were barbarians who were getting in the way of progress.

So it came as a very rude shock when Lincoln, absorbed in Confederate General Robert E. Lee's bold invasion of Maryland, learned that there was an Indian uprising in Minnesota that eventually took the lives of between 400 and 800 settlers, the largest massacre of whites in the bloody history of clashes between whites and Native Americans, and the hanging of 38 Indians, the largest mass execution in American history.

* * * * *

The roots of the Minnesota conflict dated to two 1851 treaties in which Dakota Sioux leaders ceded large tracts of land in the then Minnesota Territory to the U.S. In return for money and goods, the tribe agree to live on a 20-mile wide reservation on a 150 mile stretch of the upper Minnesota River.

As the U.S. was to do so many times in its shameful dealings with Native Americans, it reneged on key articles in the treaties. Much of the promised compensation never was paid and much of it was stolen because of rampant corruption in the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

When Minnesota became a state in 1858, representatives of several Dakota bands led by Little Crow traveled to Washington, D.C. to insist on enforcement of the treaties, but the upshot was that the northern half of the reservation was lost. The stolen land was divided into townships for settlements and logging and agricultural interests interfered with the Dakota's annual cycle of farming, hunting and fishing by depleting their farmlands and wild game.

After the Civil War erupted in April 1861, payments guaranteed by the treaties stopped altogether while the Dakotas kept losing more land to settlers. A drought and famine brought tensions between the tribe and whites to a head in the summer of 1862.

Negotiations between several Dakota bands and Indian agents and traders made little headway. Andrew Jackson Myrick, a government representative for traders, reportedly replied to a plea from the Indians that they be sold food on credit by saying "so far as I am concerned, let them eat grass."

On August 16, a treaty payment finally did arrive, but it was too little too late. On the following day, four young Dakota men on a hunting trip stole food and killed five settlers. Soon after, a Dakota war council was convened and Chief Little Crow agreed to continue attacks on settlements in an effort to drive the whites them out.

On August 18, Little Crow led a war party that attacked the Lower Sioux Agency complex. Buildings were burned and then nearby settlements, including New Ulm, were attacked. A large number of settlers and 24 Minnesota militiamen were killed. Among the dead were Myrick, whose body was found with grass stuffed in his mouth.

A series of attacks and counterattacks by militiamen and regular Army troops followed with the Dakota holding the upper hand. Repeated appeals to Lincoln for reinforcements were rebuffed until he finally realized the severity of the situation and hastily appointed General John Pope, fresh from his second defeat at Bull Run, to lead a larger force against the Dakota.

Pope did not take kindly to the assignment, feeling that Lincoln had been "feeble, cowardly, and shameful" in failing to defend him from his critics, but once in Minnesota he deflected his hostility from the president to the rebellious Indians.

Pope's troops and the Dakotas clashed at the at the Battle of Wood Lake on September 23 with the federal troops overwhelming the Indians, who surrendered three days later.

* * * * *

In early December, 303 Dakota prisoners were convicted of various charges by military tribunals and sentenced to death, some after trials lasting less than five minutes in which the charges were neither explained nor the Indians given representation. But before the sentences could be carried out, Lincoln intervened and instructed Pope to send him the trial records.

His evolving view of blacks and slavery notwithstanding, like most whites at the time Lincoln considered the Indians to be mere savages who were getting in the way of progress, including the expansion of the territories and the growing rail and riverboat networks in the Midwest and beyond. But in reviewing the records, he made an effort to distinguish between those who had engaged in warfare against the Union and those who had raped and murdered civilians.

Henry Whipple, the Episcopal bishop of Minnesota and a fierce advocate for Native Americans, urged Lincoln to be lenient and he pretty much was. The president commuted the death sentences of 264 prisoners and allowed the execution of 38 others, who were hung en masse on December 26 in Mankato, Minnesota.

That winter, more than 1,600 Dakota women, children and old men were held in an internment camp on Pike Island near Fort Snelling, Minnesota. Living conditions were poor and disease struck the camp, killing more than 300 people. Then in April 1863, Congress abolished the Dakota reservation, declared all previous treaties null and void, and put a $25 per scalp bounty on any Dakota found within the boundaries of the state.

In May, the remaining Dakotas were forced on board steamboats and relocated to the Crow Creek Reservation in the drought-stricken Dakota Territory. In 1866, they were moved to the Santee Reservation in Nebraska, although some were allowed to return to Minnesota after the Civil War.

Little Crow had fled to Canada the previous September, but returned to Minnesota where he was shot to death by a settler on July 3, 1863 while gathering raspberries with his teenage son on his ancestral lands.

Based in part on the Wikipedia entry for the Dakota War of 1862

IMAGES (From top): Chief Little Crow; Harper's Weekly depiction of the uprising; Settlers flee the Sioux; General Pope; Henry Whipple; Mass hanging at Mankato; A Sioux couple who returned to Minnesota after the Civil War.

'Lincoln Still Had Much To Learn'


34th of 45 excerpts from Lincoln by David Herbert Donald:
Throngs attended the White House reception on New Year's Day 1863. First came the members of the diplomatic corps, in full court dress, who were presented to the President by the Secretary of State. Lincoln shook hands with everyone in a cordial but businesslike manner, which reminded some observers of a farmer sawing wood. Then he passed the guests along to Mrs. Lincoln, who wore a rich dress of velvet, with lozenge trimming at the waist; it was black since she was still in mourning for Willie. Members of the cabinet followed the diplomats, and then came officers of the army and navy. In their wake what young Fanny Seward, daughter of the Secretary of State, called "people generally" passed through the reception line. Not until after noon could Lincoln escape upstairs to his office, where Seward and his son Frederick, the assistant secretary of state, presently brought him the duly engrossed copy of the final proclamation of emancipation. Excepting Tennessee and portions of other Southern states that were already under the control of the Union armies, it declared that all slaves in the states or portions of states still in rebellion, "are, and henceforward shall be free.: For this "act of justice, warranted by the Constitution, upon military necessity," the President invoked "the considerate judgment of mankind, and the gracious favor of Almighty God.: "I never, in my life, felt more certain that I was doing right, than I do in signing this paper," Lincoln remarked, but he added ruefully that his arm was so stiff and numb from so many handshakes that he was not sure he could control a pen. "Now, this signature is one that will be closely examined," he said, "and if they find my hand trembled, they will say 'he had some compunctions.' But, any way, it is going to be done!" Then, grasping the pen firmly, he slowly and carefully wrote his name at the end of the proclamation.

In the months ahead he would frequently need to exhibit the same care and firmness, for his administration was beset from all sides. Union armies were defeated or immobilized. Union naval expeditions were spectacular failures. The border states were in turmoil, and Missouri was the scene of a guerrilla war. Foreign powers offered to mediate the conflict between the Union and the Confederacy. Discontent was on the rise in the North, and confidential sources told the President that secret pro-Confederate societies were plotting to overthrow the administration. Within the Republican party factional lines sharpened, and both Conservatives and Radicals agreed that Lincoln was a failure as President. Whatever self-assurance Lincoln had gained from the cabinet crisis of December 1862 was sorely tested during the first six months of 1863, for he found that the shrewdness, tact, and forbearance that had served him so well in face-to-face disagreements were not easily applied to large groups in conflict. In short, Lincoln still had much to learn about being President.

An Index To Abraham Lincoln Posts

Abraham Lincoln was the greatest American president because none faced such enormous challenges, none grew more in office and none reinvented the United States to the extent that he did. All of that and the fact that 2009 is the bicentenary of his birth is reason enough to publish posts each Sunday on the great man.

Series highlights:
'HIS AMBITION WAS AN ENGINE THAT KNEW NO REST' (9/20) Historian Richard Shenkman debunks several Lincoln myths. LINK

HOLLYWOOD'S OBSESSION WITH LINCOLN'S LOVES (9/13) The great man -- and his loves -- have been played by an eclectic range of actors and actresses over the last century. LINK.

THE MONITOR-MERRIMACK SHOWDOWN (8/30) The battle between the ironclads settled nothing but did change navies forever. LINK

(8/23) Lincoln's Cooper Union speech was probably his finest. Yes, greater than the Gettysburg Address

WAS HE DISHONEST ABE? (8/9) Historian-economist Thomas DiLorenzo says that scholars criticize Lincoln at their own risk, but there is plenty of bad about the man along with the good. LINK

THE TRENT AFFAIR (8/2) In 1861, Lincoln had little to do with foreign affairs. This myopia was to exacerbate a crisis early in his presidency that could have transformed the war into an international conflict. LINK

COMPLEX & IMPERFECT (7/26) Historian Edna Medford argues that we do better for Lincoln and for the nation -- and for understanding of the Civil War -- if we view him in all of his complexity. LINK

THE BOOK THAT CHANGED LINCOLN & AMERICA (7/19) Uncle Tom's Cabin shook the U.S. like an earthquake when it was published in 1852. LINK

SLAVE COLONIES (7/12) Lincoln believed that he found a way to deal with the problems caused by slavery in sending blacks back to Africa to colonize Liberia, but hee was wrong. LINK

A TRUE GENIUS (6/28) Historian Shelby Foote says that there has never been a president who functioned like Lincoln did, and despite having no executive experience, he was a miracle at it. LINK

(6/21) Historian Harold Holzer leads an intimate walk-through of the very different presidential mansion of Lincoln's time. LINK

EVEN LINCOLN NEEDED A GOOD EDITOR (6/14) Guest blogger Michael Reynolds imagines how the Gettysburg Address might have turned out had the president had a good editor. LINK

MOST HANDS-ON COMMANDER IN CHIEF (6/7) The outcome of the Civil War in all likelihood would have been different had Lincoln not cajoled, taken over for and in some cases dismissed the generals who lacked his vision and courage. LINK

A SKIMPIER RESUME WOULD BE HARD TO FIND (5/31) David Herbert Donald, the recently deceased Lincoln biographer, writes that an inexperienced chief executive can cause the country immense heartbreak, but that with time and good common sense can grow into greatness. LINK

NOW ALIEN TO THE REPUBLICAN PARTY (5/11) Pete Abel writes in a two-part guest blog that while there are a few common traits between Lincoln and today's GOP, the differences are far more substantial. PART 1, PART 2

THE ASSASSINATION (4/22, 4/29, 5/4) It is rather amazing that so little is known about basic aspects of the assassination of John F. Kennedy while there is virtually no aspect of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln a century earlier that remains a mystery. PART 1, PART 2, PART 3

(4/5) It took fewer than three minutes to deliver the famous speech, but it was an afterthought on the day it was given and remained so into the next century.

HOW VALID THE COMPARISONS? (3/29) With the nomination and election of Barack Obama, the comparisons to Abraham Lincoln have come fast, thick and furious. But do they hold up? LINK

A PATENTLY CLEVER PRESIDENT (3/22) That Lincoln was the only president to get a U.S. patent is not surprising when you consider that he was an inveterate tinkerer and had a lifelong fascination with mechanical things. LINK

A PRESIDENTIAL SCHOLAR ON LINCOLN (3/15) A wide-ranging interview with James Hilty on Lincoln's greatness, frailties and innate conservatism. LINK

A BUMPY RIDE TO HIS REWARD (3/8) There was a controversy over a photograph taken of Lincoln's open coffin, an attempt to steal his corpse and his body was exhumed an extraordinary 17 times. LINK

WAS THE GREAT EMANCIPATOR GAY? (3/1) No revisionist history of a famous person would be complete without a book on whether they were gay, or if they were gay whether they were bisexual, or if they . . . LINK

PRESIDENTIAL POWER GRABS (2/22) The infringements by Lincoln on civil liberties arguably were greater than during any period in American history, including the last eight years. LINK

EARLY ASSASSINATION PLOT (2/15) A March 1861 assassination plot was never carried out, but Lincoln's response to it sullied a carefully cultivated image of dignified courage. LINK

(2/8) Beyond Lincoln's opposition to slavery there was no aspect of him more controversial than his spiritual bona fides

THE BOHEMIAN BRIGADE COMES THROUGH (2/1) Modern journalism can trace its roots to the Civil War, which because of the telegraph and steam locomotive was the first instant-news war, something of which Lincoln was very much aware. LINK

(1/25) His metamorphosis from a frontiersman who always opposed slavery but like most white Americans felt that blacks were unequal into the Great Emancipator was as complex as the man himself. LINK

LINCOLN'S CAUTION (1/18) Guest blogger Robert Stein writes that Barack Obama can learn much from the 16th president, who perhaps even more than wisdom and moral strength needed a highly developed political sense of the possible. LINK

THE FIRST TECHNOLOGY PRESIDENT (1/11) Arriving in Washington at the dawn of the age of the telegraph, Lincoln embraced this new technology of instantaneous communication with a passion and used it not just to communicate with his generals in the field during the Civil War, but to bend them to his will. LINK

LINCOLN LINCOLN BO BINCOLN (1/4) A substantial Lincoln mythology had taken hold in the American imagination even before his assassination in 1865. This canon of broad brush strokes and tall tales gave Lincoln his historic due but overlooked or willfully ignored the myriad complexities of our greatest president. LINK

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Obama Takes The Right Course On Iran

Once again Barack Obama proves his conservative critics correct about being a coward when it comes to foreign policy.

He cancels an utterly useless and wildly expensive missile shield program in Eastern Europe and is rewarded by greater Russian cooperation on Iran.

He speaks to the U.N. General Assembly and threatens to get tough with Iran if it doesn't fess up about its nuclear ambitions.

He then calls a press conference with French President Sarkozy (recall that France
opposed Bush administration efforts to take down Tehran) and British Prime Minister Brown at which he reveals the existence of yet another secret nuclear fuel-manufacturing plant.

He gives the Tehran regime two months to comply with international demands or face increased sanctions that Russia (once Iran's reliable patron) says it will back.

Not a peep about bomb, bomb bombing Iran. What a wuss!

Top photograph by Agence France-Presse