Turkey in the Straw

 

Something for the weekend.  Turkey in the Straw seems appropriate for the weekend before Thanksgiving.  The spirited rendition above is by the Skillet Lickers, a Georgia band of the twenties and thirties of the last century. Part time musicians, they made up in enthusiasm and faithfulness to the traditional music they played, what they may have lacked in technical skill.

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Published in: on November 18, 2017 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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November 17, 1973: I Am Not a Crook

 

 

Hard to believe that it is forty-four years since the infamous “I am not a crook” news conference of President Nixon.  The video clip gives a taste of the surreal quality of those times.  For the sake of attempting to cover up a politically inspired burglary in a presidential election that the Democrats were busily throwing away, Nixon in 1972 embarked on a cover-up that eventually destroyed his Presidency, with his resignation in disgrace coming in August of 1974.

Greek tragedy is too mild a term to apply when discussing the presidency of Nixon.  Dealt a bad hand in Vietnam, he extricated the country from Vietnam while building up the South Vietnamese military to the extent that they could hold their own against the North Vietnamese, as long as supplies kept flowing from the US and their ground forces were supported by American air power.  His diplomatic opening to Red China was a masterful, if fairly obvious, strategic win over the Soviets.  Talks with the Soviets helped lower the temperature of the Cold War.  Domestically Nixon was the liberal Republican he always was, with wage and price controls and an expansion of the Federal government.  (more…)

Published in: on November 17, 2017 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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November 16, 1940: Mad Bomber of New York Plants First Bomb

George Metesky, the most disgruntled of all disgruntled workers, planted his first bomb at a Consolidated Edison power plant on Manhattan.  A former Marine, Metesky had worked for Consolidated Edison and been injured at a work place accident in 1931.  Consolidated Edison successfully defeated his legal attempt to obtain compensation, his last appeal occurring in 1936.  (He waited too long in order to file a claim under workers compensation.)  He developed a strong hatred for the company, and decided to use homemade bombs to get his vengeance.  His first bomb was a crude one, a brass pipe filled with gunpowder, with an ignition mechanism consisting of batteries and sugar.  The bomb was discovered before it could go off.  It was wrapped in a note signed F.P. stating :  CON EDISON CROOKS – THIS IS FOR YOU.

In September 1941 the police found a similar bomb, this time a dud, without a note, laying in the street, five blocks from Consolidated Edison headquarters.

Shortly after Pearl Harbor, Metesky sent a note to the police stating:  I WILL MAKE NO MORE BOMB UNITS FOR THE DURATION OF THE WAR – MY PATRIOTIC FEELINGS HAVE MADE ME DECIDE THIS – LATER I WILL BRING THE CON EDISON TO JUSTICE – THEY WILL PAY FOR THEIR DASTARDLY DEEDS… F.P.

He kept his word, and took a ten year hiatus from planting bombs.  Between 1951-1956 he planted at least 31 bombs in New York City, twenty-two of which exploded.  Mercifully no one was killed, but fifteen people were injured.

The public was getting hysterical due to the police inability of stopping the bombings, the New York City police being surrounded by blind leads and a wave of false confessions.  They turned to criminologist James Brussels who worked out a profile of the bomber that was published in newspapers by the police:

Male, as historically most bombers were male. Well proportioned and of average build, based on studies of hospitalized mental patients. Forty to fifty years old, as paranoia develops slowly. Precise, neat and tidy, based on his letters and the workmanship of his bombs. An exemplary employee, on time and well-behaved. A Slav, because bombs were favored in Middle Europe. A Catholic, because most Slavs were Catholic. Courteous but not friendly.

Has a good education but probably not college. Foreign-born or living in a community of the foreign-born – the formal tone and old-fashioned phrasing of the letters sounded to Brussel as if they had been written or thought out in a foreign language and then translated into English. Based on the rounded letter “w’s” of the handwriting, believed to represent breasts, and the slashing and stuffing of theater seats, Brussel thought something about sex was troubling the bomber, possible an oedipus complex – loving his mother and hating his father and other authority figures.

A loner, no friends, little interest in women, possibly a virgin. Unmarried, perhaps living with an older female relative. Probably lives in Connecticut, as Connecticut has high concentrations of Slavs, and many of the bomber’s letters were posted in Westchester County, midway between Connecticut and New York City.

Pleased by all the publicity, Metesky entered into a taunting correspondence with the police by sending letters to the New York Journal American.  A Consolidated Edison clerk, Alice Kelly finally broke the case.  She had been assigned to examine files in which injured workers had made explicit or implicit threats.  She noticed that some of the phrases used in Metesky’s letters to Consolidated Edison matched the correspondence  sent by F.P. to the New York Journal American.  Police arrested Metesky on January 21, 1957.  He made a complete confession and told the officers that F.P.  stood for Fair Play.  Found to be insane, Metesky spent 25 years in a mental hospital before being released, having been unresponsive to therapy but otherwise a model inmate.  He died twenty years later in 1994, age 90.

Published in: on November 16, 2017 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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Vices of the Articles of Confederation

 

 

On November 15, 1777, two hundred and forty years ago, the Congress approved the Article of Confederation and sends them to the States.  The Articles would not go into effect until March 1, 1781, after being ratified by all of the 13 States.  It is interesting to note, and a truly remarkable fact, that the American Revolution was almost entirely fought with the government of the Union, what little there was of it, being the temporary expedient of the Second Continental Congress.

In April 1787 James Madison wrote a very interesting document outlining the vices of the political system of the United States under the Articles of Confederation.  It is fascinating to read in light of the Constitutional Convention later that year, and also in light of our experience with the Constitution for over two centuries: (more…)

Published in: on November 15, 2017 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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November 14, 1957: The Apalachin Meeting

A Mafia summit meeting was held at the home of Joseph “Joe the Barber” Barbara in Apalachin, New York on November 14, 1957.  Head of the Luciano crime family Vito Genovese  called the meeting to discuss various matters and to attempt to take control of the governing body of the Mafia in America, the Commission having long been divided between a “Conservative Faction” that wanted to run the Mafia in America as the Mafia was conducted in Sicily, and a “Liberal Faction”, led by Genovese, that wanted the Mafia in America to chart its own course free of any Sicilian traditions.  About 100 Mafiosi showed up, with local law enforcement and the New York State Police quickly wondering why all these expensive cars were showing up at a house in sleepy Apalachin.  “Joe the Barber” had been under occasional surveillance by the State Police prior to the meeting.  A raid was conducted and about 58 members of the Mafia, including Genovese, were picked up.  They all claimed that “Joe the Barber” had been sick and they had come to visit him.

For the Mafia the Apalachin meeting was a long term disaster as it confirmed in the public mind the existence of the Mafia.  After Apalchin, J. Edgar Hoover could no longer ignore the Mafia, and a long term war began between the Federal government and the Mafia which would eventually reduce the Mafia to a shadow of its former self.

Published in: on November 14, 2017 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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Top Ten Posts of All Time on Almost Chosen People

 

I get in a stats mood every now and then.  Here are the top ten most viewed posts on Almost Chosen People:

  1.  Edmund Burke and the American Revolution is the top post with 13,306 views.  Go here to read it.
  2.  Jefferson and Rousseau-On Democracy comes in number two with 11,592 views.  Go here to read it.
  3.  Sam Houston and Secession is at number three with 10,615 views.  Go here to read it.
  4.  Magna Carta comes in at number four with 9,891 views.  Go here to read it.
  5.  Federalist 51-Madison comes in fifth with 8,708 views.  Go here to read it.
  6.  Washington at Prayer has had 7,316 views.  Go here to read it.
  7.  Edmund Burke’s Views on America has 6,525 views.  Go here to read it.
  8.  Lincoln on the Compromise of 1850 and the Kansas Nebraska Act comes in at 4,836 views.  Go here to read it.
  9.  George Washington in Trafalgar Square has 4,582 views.  Go here to read it.
  10.  Appropriately, Top Ten Movies for the Fourth of July with 4,194 views rounds out our top ten list.  Go here to read it.

I would note that my co-blogger Paul Zummo wrote the posts at 1,2,5, and 7 places and I drafted the remainder.

Published in: on November 13, 2017 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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Thanks

When you go home, tell them of us and say, for your tomorrow, we gave our today.

Inscription on the memorial to the dead of the British 2nd Division at Kohima

 

Published in: on November 12, 2017 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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Every Day Is Veterans Day

 

 

Something for the weekend.  Eternal Father.  Today I have the honor of delivering the Veterans Day speech in my village of Dwight.  The speech was written by  my son, Donald John McClarey, who was sworn in as an attorney on Thursday, and who will be joining me to work our law mines.  Here is the text of the speech:

 

It is the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month. Ninety-nine years ago today, the guns on the Western Front fell silent and World War One ended. After such a great and terrible war, it was only natural that this day became a holiday. Woodrow Wilson proclaimed today Armistice Day in 1919 and thirty states made it a state holiday that same year. In 1938, this day became a national holiday by act of Congress. In 1954, after World War Two, Armistice Day became Veterans Day, to honor all the veterans of all of America’s conflicts.

 

Falling as it does on the day World War One ended, a war that has so greatly shaped our world, as so many of our conflicts in the last century and beyond have, in a sense it is fitting that a holiday celebrating all veterans should be held today. However, in a larger sense, in a far greater sense, is there really only one particular day when we should honor our veterans? No, there is not. In reality, every day is Veterans Day, because the actions and sacrifices of our veterans mark every day we live. They have made the world we live in, and we must ever thank them for what they did for us, both at home and throughout the Earth.

 

 

This sounds perhaps overblown, but it is really just a statement of fact. Who is fighting the Taliban and ISIS? Who fought Communism and won the Cold War? Who fought the Nazis and the Empire of Japan? Who fought the Civil War? Who won our independence? The answer is always the same: veterans, American veterans. Most of them ordinary men, and sometimes ordinary women, at first blush no different from anyone you would meet walking around Dwight, who decided to do something extraordinary and stand up for the ideals this nation was founded on, to defeat tyranny and defend liberty, both here and abroad. These ideals are best summed up in the immortal words of Thomas Jefferson: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

 

 

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. These words have always had an immense impact, with the sheer weight of what they promise to all of us, to all mankind. But it is all too easy to imagine worlds where these words are just empty, high-sounding ink on an old piece of parchment, no more important to us than a scribble on a post-it note that we have crumpled and thrown away. It scarcely bears imagining, worlds where the Declaration and everything it promised would be seen as just a historical curiosity, or, at worst, trash, consigned to the forgotten past by those who rule our world. In order to appreciate what our veterans have accomplished, let us imagine such bleak alternate worlds where the truths of the Declaration were defeated.

 

 

Imagine the Declaration under glass in a British museum displaying documents from a failed American colonial revolt in the 1700s, that was just a minor disturbance on the road to breaking the Thirteen Colonies to the distant will of London. Or, in another world, the Declaration being displayed in a different exhibit, one on the founding documents of a failed republic that tore itself apart over slavery in the 1860s, first in two, then into more fragments of a great nation, as secession became a valid option for any grievance, and states fled a failing Union. Or, worst of all, the Declaration being burnt to ashes as Fascist or Communist armies paraded through our streets, ushering in a new era of hideous nightmares for all mankind.

 

 

The last world is unquestionably the most terrifying because in our world those ideologies murdered hundreds of millions of people and terrorized billions more during the past century. One can only imagine the horrors that would have been unleashed in a world where their madness and evil ruled supreme, bringing all that misery and bloodshed right to our homes, to our families. I have no doubt most of us know loved ones who died fighting in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. I’d like you all to join me in a brief moment of silence for them and for everyone who has died because of those murderous ideologies they confronted.

 

 

But we, thankfully, do not live in any of those worlds. We do not live in those worlds because the generations here, and the generations before, did not let them come to pass. Veterans of the past and veterans of today, embodying that which is best in all of us, stood and fought on countless battlefields to preserve the ideals of the Declaration of Independence, bringing us the peace and freedom we enjoy in this country today.

 

 

We live in a world where America stands for freedom. Let me repeat that sacred word: freedom! Many in this day and age like to scoff at that assertion, but we know that no other nation enjoys such a bonding to that noble ideal. Our veterans and their deeds are living proof of that. If anyone looks at the battles they fought, and why they were fought, they will know that America fights for freedom. The victories of our veterans were not just victories for our freedom, but for the freedom of all humanity.

 

Men and women throughout the globe do not look to Britain, Germany, Canada, Mexico, or any other nation to serve as beacons of liberty, beacons for the rights of all. They look to America because they know that throughout its history American soldiers have always striven to uphold those ideals. And so, going back to the beginning of this speech, every day is Veterans Day, because every day we live in the world they made, under God, and for this our veterans deserve every honor we can bestow.

 

 

Everything we enjoy, our veterans gave to us, often at a high price for themselves. Our safety, our prosperity, and most importantly, our freedom, were all made possible by their blood and sacrifice. They made a world where this nation stands tallest among all others, and a world where all men, even if they still groan under a tyrant’s rule, know of the American promise of freedom. When our veterans signed up, they knew what high price their duty might demand to protect our homes and our loved ones. They answered the call, and we are ever in their debt. And so on this day, and on all days, we should thank our veterans, not only for their service, but for all we have. May God bless and cherish our veterans, and the country which they have so nobly served.

 

Published in: on November 11, 2017 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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Happy 242nd Birthday to the Corps!

You cannot exaggerate about the Marines. They are convinced, to the point of arrogance, that they are the most ferocious fighters on earth – and the amusing thing about it is that they are…You should see the group about me as I write- dirty, bearded, their clothing food-spattered and filthy- they look like the castoffs of creation. Yet they have a sense of loyalty, generosity, even piety greater than any men I have ever known. These rugged men have the simple piety of children. You can’t help loving them, in spite of their language and their loose sense of private property. Don’t ever feel sorry for a priest in the Marines. The last eight weeks have been the happiest and most contented in my life.

 Father Kevin Keaney, 1st MarDiv Chaplain, Korean War

 

 

On November 10, 1775 the Continental Congress passed this resolution authored by John Adams:

“Resolved, That two battalions of Marines be raised consisting of one colonel, two lieutenant-colonels, two majors, and other officers, as usual in other regiments; that they consist of an equal number of privates with other battalions; that particular care be taken that no persons be appointed to office, or enlisted into said battalions but such as are good seamen, or so acquainted with maritime affairs as to be able to serve with advantage by sea when required; that they be enlisted and commissioned to serve for and during the present War with Great Britain and the colonies, unless dismissed by order of Congress; that they be distinguished by names of First and Second Battalions of American Marines, and that they be considered as part of the number which the Continental Army before Boston is ordered to consist of.”

The Continental Marines were just over three months old when they staged the first of the amphibious operations that have ever been the hallmark of the Marine Corps.  As depicted in the video clip from the movie John Paul Jones (1959).  Under the command of Captain Esek Hopkins, a tiny American fleet seized  Nassau in the Bahamas  on March 3, 1776, 210 Marines leading the way.  Desperately needed artillery, gunpowder and military supplies were seized.  The Marines had won the first of their many, many victories for the United States. (more…)

Published in: on November 10, 2017 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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Reb Marines

Born on March 16, 1861 by an Act of the Confederate Congress,  the Confederate States Marine Corps had an authorized strength of 45 officers and 944 enlisted men, increased in 1862 to 1026 enlisted men.  The Marines never had more than 600 men at one time during the War.  Throughout the War the headquarters and training facilities of the CSMC was at Camp Beal on Drewry’s Bluff and at the Gosport Navy Yard at Norfolk.  The Marines were led by Colonel-Commadant Lloyd J. Beall, a former major and paymaster in the United States Army.  Much of the records of the CSMC were destroyed by a fire in Beall’s home after the War in 1887, which also killed Beall. (more…)

Published in: on November 9, 2017 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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