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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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States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited”) was thereby repealed and such activities (albeit subject to regulation) became legalised.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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