June 8, 1918: The Great American Eclipse

Map showing path of total eclipse of the sun across the United States, June 8, 1918

Today, August 21, 2017, the US will experience a total solar eclipse that will go across the continental United States, from the Pacific to the Atlantic.  The last time this occurred was on June 8, 1918, proceeding from Washington State across the US to Florida.  The press gave heavy coverage to the eclipse and rightly warned of the risk of blindness by looking at the eclipse with the naked eye.

I would note that my son’s alma mater, SIU, is in the path of totality of the current eclipse and is running several events today.  Go here to read about it.

 

Published in: on August 21, 2017 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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Did Government Meddling Bring About the Great Depression?

The above video says yes, and attributes the bad policy to Herbert Hoover.  Considering the cycle of boom and bust that America had long seen, the Great Depression stands out for both its length and severity.  Perhaps this is not the answer, but it it is certainly more accurate than the historical myth that says that Hoover did nothing in the face of the Great Depression.

Published in: on August 20, 2017 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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Homeward Bound

 

Something for the weekend.  Homeward Bound by Simon and Garfunkel.  My family and I are homeward bound from Indianapolis and will spend the day at home before running our daughter up to her library school tomorrow.  Written by Paul Simon in 1964 the song was debuted by the duo in 1966 and made it to number nine of the top 100.

Published in: on August 19, 2017 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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World War I in Six Minutes

 

Posts about World War I will become an increasing part of this blog over the next year and so a good short video giving a brief introduction to the Great War.

Published in: on August 18, 2017 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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The Military Coup Against Donald Trump

 

 

(I posted this originally at The American Catholic, and I thought the conspiracy mavens of Almost Chosen People might enjoy it.)

 

 

Kurt Schlichter, columnist, attorney and retired Army Colonel, has written the first part of a fictional account of a military coup against President Trump in 2018:

But how would one pull off a coup d’etat in the United States? Most of the political hacks had no idea, while the military experts understood the massive challenge. Some answers were obvious – in the Third World, the first thing the plotters take control of are the radio and TV stations and the newspapers. In America, the media was already in the bag. Hell, they would cheerlead a coup. But the actual seizure of power? That was more complicated.

“You just send in some soldiers and take over everything,” said the younger and, astonishingly, stupider California senator. “You know, with guns. How hard can this Army stuff be?”

Retired – actually, fired by Trump – General Leonard Smith, who had been promoted by Obama after failing to win in Iraq and Afghanistan, but who successfully spearheaded the transsexuals in foxholes initiative, tried to explain.

“Look, it’s a matter of numbers. We take all our land forces in CONUS…”

“What’s CONUS?” asked a former Clinton Deputy Assistant Undersecretary of Defense.

“The continental United States,” the general replied, annoyed. “We have maybe 45 brigade combat teams total available, counting everything active and reserve, Marine and Army. Less than one per state. And a city takes a brigade to control – at least. New York would take ten. And that’s assuming they were all loyal to us. There’s police and federal law enforcement too, but we also have 100 million armed Americans who might object.”

“Ridiculous,” sniffed the senator. “How can a bunch of citizens armed with their deer rifles stop a modern army?” (more…)

Published in: on August 17, 2017 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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Colonel Roosevelt Testifies

 

 

It has been a splendid little war, begun with the highest motives, carried on with magnificent intelligence and spirit, favored by that Fortune that loves the brave. It is now to be concluded, I hope, with that fine good nature, which is, after all, the distinguishing trait of the American character.

John Hay, US Ambassador to Great Britain, letter to Theodore Roosevelt, July 1898

 

In many ways, Theodore Roosevelt’s  future Secretary of State was correct.  The War was short and victorious for the US, with the divisions of the Civil War largely forgotten by white Americans, North and South,  unified in the fight against Spain.  This was symbolized by the rapturous reception the 6th Massachusetts received from the citizens of Baltimore as it passed through on its way to ship out, box lunches were given to the men in a huge celebration, a stark departure from the bloody greeting received by the regiment from the citizens of Baltimore on its way to Washington in 1861 at the onset of the Civil War.

However, in the aftermath of the War journalists and returning veterans told tales of rampant mismanagement, of appalling rations, inadequate uniforms and chaotic transport.  A political storm arose and President McKinley appointed a commission to investigate the conduct of the War.  Colonel Theodore Roosevelt, who had been unsparing in his private comments about the mismanagement of the Cuban campaign, appeared before the Committee on November 22, 1898, a few weeks after his election as Governor of New York.  Go here to read his testimony.  Roosevelt was restrained in his testimony, noting that the rapid expansion of the Army was bound to encounter problems, and that these problems could be partially alleviated by large scale maneuvers in peace time.   (more…)

Published in: on August 16, 2017 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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August 15, 1945: The Voice of the Crane

 

 

Allied bombers had been used on August 13, 1945 dropping leaflets over Japan which described, in Japanese, the surrender offer and the Allied response.  On August 14, 1945 Hirohito met with his military leaders, several of whom spoke in favor of continuing the War.  Hirohito urged them to help him bring the War to an end.  Meeting then with the Supreme Council for the Direction of the War and heard out those who recommended a rejection of the Allied offer unless there was a guarantee that the Emperor would continue to reign.  Hirohito then spoke:

I have listened carefully to each of the arguments presented in opposition to the view that Japan should accept the Allied reply as it stands and without further clarification or modification, but my own thoughts have not undergone any change. … In order that the people may know my decision, I request you to prepare at once an imperial rescript so that I may broadcast to the nation. Finally, I call upon each and every one of you to exert himself to the utmost so that we may meet the trying days which lie ahead.

In normal times in Japan that would have been that.  It was quite rare for the Emperor to so overtly intervene in a decision of the government, indeed it was forbidden under the then current Japanese constitution, but when he did, it would have literally been unthinkable for any Japanese not to instantly obey.  However, these were far from normal times.

The rest of the day was taken up with Hirohito preparing an address to his people and having a recording played to be broadcast on August 15, 1945.  Washington was advised that Japan had surrendered via the Japanese embassies in Switzerland and Sweden and the Allied world went wild with joy. (more…)

Published in: on August 15, 2017 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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August 14, 1917: Food Administration Grain Corporation



 

One of the frequently overlooked aspects of American involvement in World War I, is the massive shipments of food from the United States to the Allies that kept them from experiencing the type of dearth of food that afflicted Germany in the latter years of the War.  Behind the success of this effort was one of the greatest geniuses of organization in American history, future president Herbert Hoover.  Since the onset of the War he had organized food relief for occupied Belgium, and is still honored there, for his central role in preventing mass famine in that war devastated country, where the German conquerors had little concern of whether the Belgian civilians had food to eat.   Hoover performed similar  miracles of humanitarian relief in occupied France.

I his Executive Order of August 14, 1917 President Wilson established the Food Administration Grain Corporation with Herbert Hoover on the Board.  This was part of the United States Food Admninistration which Wilson appointed Hoover to lead.  Future posts will explore Hoover’s actions in charge of this organization.  Here is the text of the Executive Order of August 14, 1917:

 

 

(more…)

Published in: on August 14, 2017 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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Divisions

 

(I originally posted this at The American Catholic and I thought the history mavens of Almost Chosen People might enjoy it.)

 

This event I believe occurred at the Fourth Moscow Conference in 1944:

 

In 1944, at a time when the Soviet Union bore the brunt of the struggle against Nazi Germany, it was important to convince Stalin that the Western democracies accepted him as an equal. “‘In the world of the future, for which our soldiers have shed their blood on countless fronts”, the British Prime Minister said in his bombastic style, “our three great democracies will demonstrate to all mankind that they, both in wartime and in peacetime, will remain true to the high principles of freedom, dignity, and happiness of the people. That’s why I attach such paramount importance to good neighbourly relations between a restored Poland and the Soviet Union. It was for the freedom and independence of Poland that Britain went into this war. The British feel a sense of moral responsibility to the Polish people, to their spiritual values. It’s also important that Poland is a Catholic country. We can’t allow internal developments there to complicate our relations with the Vatican…”

“How many divisions does the Pope of Rome have?” Stalin asked, suddenly interrupting Churchill’s line of reasoning.

Valentin Berezhkov, Stalin’s interpreter, in his memoirs recounted this.

 

The response of Pius XII I have been unable to source as to time and place, but it has become immortal:  “You can tell my son Joseph that he will meet my divisions in heaven.”

The divisions that Stalin put so much faith in are as dead and buried now as he is, as is his Communist State that lasted merely one long life time.  Dictators come and go, Christ remains. (more…)

Published in: on August 13, 2017 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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Vacation

 

Something for the weekend.  Since your humble scribe is on vacation with his family, the song Vacation sung by Connie Francis seemed appropriate.  Written by Francis, Gary Weston and Hank Hunter, the song made it to to number nine of the top 100 in 1962.

Published in: on August 12, 2017 at 5:30 am  Comments (2)  
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