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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O Captain! My Captain!

April 14, 2017 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | American Politics, HISTORY, POLITICS, USA History |

Post mortem image taken by John B. Bachelder

Bad Night at Ford’s Theater, Good Friday, April 14, 1865. Our great pal Torrie reminds us that since 1865, Good Friday has fallen on April 14 only in the years 1876, 1911, 1922, 1933, 1995 and 2006.  And now again. It marks the seventh such Good Friday since a Great Man was felled by an assassin’s pistol, less than a week after the Confederate surrender had restored the Union of the American States.                       As citizens of a world in which America has played such a dominant part for over…

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Being Nixon

Being Nixon – A Man Divided by Evan Thomas (2015) Sentimentality – which friend and foe agreed Nixon had in spades – was probably the trait that betrayed him.  The Peter Sellers of politicians, Nixon (9 January 1913 – 22 April 1994) never got comfortable with his own skin, so he posed as – machismo, family-man, kindly, bold, psycho, sucker and reclusive seer, etc., those personas he schmaltzily thought would play with the silent majority, or make him feel better.  In this very balanced and readable book, Mr. Thomas gets fairly close to the enigma of ‘Tricky Dick‘ without vituperation or high-falootin’ prose. Nixon’s life is…

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