'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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Vietnam / Iraq

South Vietnamese forces follow after terrified children, including 9-year-old Kim Phuc, center, as they run down Route 1 near Trang Bang after an aerial napalm attack on suspected Viet Cong hiding places, June 8, 1972. A South Vietnamese plane accidentally dropped its flaming napalm on South Vietnamese troops and civilians. The terrified girl had ripped off her burning clothes while fleeing. The children from left to right are: Phan Thanh Tam, younger brother of Kim Phuc, who lost an eye, Phan Thanh Phouc, youngest brother of Kim Phuc, Kim Phuc, and Kim's cousins Ho Van Bon, and Ho Thi Ting. Behind them are soldiers of the Vietnam Army 25th Division. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

While recently reviewing The Deer Hunter, we strayed In Country, a tangled thicket where the eternal skirmish over Vietnam carries on. Now it is held-up as a mirror to military madness, and as a parable for the incursion / invasion of Iraq.  But whereas the strategic argument for Gulf War II remains opaque to this day despite inquiry after inquiry, I suggest that the escalation in Vietnam, as at 1965, is different to the events of 2003 by a substantial degree, rendering most modern comparisons between the two erroneous. The late 1950s, 1960s and 1970s formed the middle age of the Cold War (a…

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American Visions

June 30, 2015 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | ART, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS, USA History |

Copley could paint a nice lady; couldn't paint a shark

(Robert Hughes) (1997) Hughes was one of those big, bold, Jesuitical, learned men of the arts whom we sorely need and miss.  This book, and the series on which it is based, is crammed with Hughes’ invariably wise, precise and yet loving take on American Art. He took up a role as Time’s art critic in 1970 and those who are old enough to have actually read Time recall his brilliant and generally fair opinions on the world of contemporary art. This wonderful review is as good as his seminal The Shock of the New but wiser and less hurried.  If you…

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Essence of Dick

"Let Me Make Something Perfectly Clear" (1970 photo of Nixon by Jack E Kightlinger)

      “A place in the national firmament… Greatness is more than government. To make exciting mischief or dull salt; Hazard the chance of ruin, lay on fault, Set the highest stakes through piracy But who the hell to handle it, to cut free; To build me a mad image, up to anything Other than domestically, one who’ll thus bring A welcome beard. Under my dark sun, hold hard! The one you serve was dealt the bleakest card.”     (What serves power, if one’s form at flood Is splendidly bedight yet daubed with mud? And the ‘new King’…

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