Playing With Fire

(by Lawrence O’Donnell) (2017) Our favourite book on the incredible 1968 Presidential election remains the superb and impartial work by visiting British journalists, An American Melodrama. But this work by leftie Lawrence is a terrific read, once you learn to shut-out the partisan noise swirling about every chapter.  There’s nothing new here except the charge of treason by Nixon over the Anna Chennault affair, which O’Donnell mines from a book by the almost equally, but less noisily, partial John A. Farrell. [For his Book Richard Nixon: The Life, Farrell has read Haldeman’s notes of conversations with Tricky Dick and implies…

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Not For All the Money in the World

December 15, 2017 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | CRIME, Drama Film, FILM, HISTORY, USA History |

December 15: John Paul Getty III, kidnapped and ransomed, turned up alive near Naples on this day in 1973. He’d been missing for months.  A letter had arrived the previous month with an accompanying parcel and the curt message: “This is Paul’s ear. If we don’t get some money within 10 days, then the other ear will arrive. In other words, he will arrive in little bits.” His grandfather, J Paul Getty Snr., who was worth over $2 billion US, was a tad parsimonious about paying the ransom (although with 14 other grandchildren and a loathing of appeasement, he must have thought…

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The Poet Obama

"Who are you, really?"

Barack Obama (born 4 August 1961) President Obama was a real smoothie, His act seemed straight out of a movie, He’d gaze at crowds to gauge their awe, Say “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.” You moved, so he slapped a tax on thee, Regulated to a halt, then a subsidy Was wielded at the end of the nation’s rope, Thus proving the audacity of hope. “There has never been anything false about hope” A self-serving virtue, a dog-tired trope. From the Levant we do a moonlight flit, “Change will not come if we wait for it.” He swaggered,…

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When Vice Presidents Carried Guns

11 July 1804: Vice President Aaron Burr kills former Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton in a duel in New Jersey.  We forget, even these days, what a frontier country early America was. In his sublime novel, Gore Vidal has Burr describe it thus: “It was determined that we would meet across the river in New Jersey, on the heights known as Weehawk….we would meet in two weeks’ time on July 11, 1804…I did not realize with what cunning Hamilton had prepared his departure from this world, and my ruin…When I woke up on the sofa, saw dawn, I knew I would…

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Monkeying About

water-colour of Charles Darwin by George Richmond

May 5, 1925: Teacher John Scopes is charged with having taught evolution in a Tennessee school. Originally designed as a means of putting the town of Dayton on the map, the case became a circus when Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan rolled into town as defence and prosecuting counsel.  The whole affair became a hoary old film of which The Varnished Culture has previously spoken. Scopes was convicted and fined $100 (which was overturned on appeal because, unusually, the penalty had to be stipulated by the jury rather than the trial judge). But Dayton did great business that summer….

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