Prohibition Ends

December 15, 2016 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | American Politics, HISTORY, LIFE, POLITICS, Ulalume, USA History |

The Twenty-first Amendment was adopted on December 5, 1933 and became became officially effective on December 15. The (1920) 18th Amendment (that “the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited”) was thereby repealed and such activities (albeit subject to regulation) became legalised.  This wowser-inspired law conclusively demonstrated that when you wish to ban a well-established vice, be careful what you wish for… Repeal was enough to justify reaching for the nearest bottle of really good…

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Mourning in America

November 19, 2016 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | American Politics, POLITICS, USA History |

As the dust settles from the US election, the clearing horizon fills, not with limousines heading towards the Canadian border, but with enemies of democracy, carrying torches (on a sunny day). Democracy isn’t easy and supporters of the losing side will generally feel there’s been a mistake.  But short of a kind of existentialist dictatorship – each of us having plenary power for a short burst, akin to Swiss round-robin rule – it is the only way.  Churchill recognised this, although he suggested that brief time spent with the average voter would put anyone off democracy, and to paraphrase Tom Paine, even…

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The Truth About Truth

July 8, 2016 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | HISTORY, METAPHYSICS, USA History |

Not as it seems (photo by CGP Grey)

8 July, 1947: The Army Air Field at Roswell, New Mexico, issued a press statement about salvaging the remnants of a “flying disc” from a nearby ranch and taking it to the air field, where it was quickly spirited to an undisclosed location. It wasn’t till about 30 years later (probably after the release of Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)) that dozens of people started asserting they’d seen aliens, flying saucers, men in black, and so on. It was good business for a long time.  But it wouldn’t even pass muster with Stephen Glass. Truth remains an elusive,…

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'Where are the cigars?' (George Healy's 'The Peacemakers')

July 6, 1854: The US Republican Party held its first Convention, in Jackson, Michigan, ‘under the oaks’.  Six years later, the Grand Old Party had its first President: 162 years after that first Convention, the Republicans have taken a wild gamble with their nominee for President in 2017: Mr Trump, like Howard Beale in Network, is articulating the rage of the American people.  It’s Big Casino – he could end up like Barry Goldwater, but if he moderates his approach, given the times, he might get there, like Nixon in 1968. Mind you, the Democrats aren’t exactly running FDR, or JFK. …

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An American Deity

Young he was and sound ‘in wind and limb’, Fit and tanned, bareheaded, toothy, slim, Rich he was of vocabulary and purse, Bore away he be in a wagon, not a hearse, Draped in a flag his form, of garish stripes and stars Followed slowly by lesser men in motor cars. It all began they say, in a killing frost, A cold replicated later when he was lost, Abbreviated poesy marked the spot On which commenced the reign of Camelot, Where a bogus royalty came into view As desideratum, thus embraced as true.              …

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