Turning Point


From Wikipedia

In 1898 the United States entered the world stage, replacing Spain as a major power following a decisive victory. A hundred years ago today an event occurred that forever ensured this country’s participation in world affairs. On 3 March 1917 German Foreign Secretary Arthur Zimmermann acknowledged the German Empire was conspiring to bring Mexico into war with the United States. The item of the hour was the Zimmermann Telegram. A prior post recounts the details from Herbert Yardley’s book:

A famous code breaking case of the time, and one that had historical implications, was one that never came the way of the Black Chamber. This was the famous Zimmerman cable message. At the time, Mexico was still smarting from General Pershing’s punitive raid into Mexican territory, and General Carranza, the President of Mexico decided to throw in his lot with the Germans:

The reader will recall the sensational Zimmermann-Carranza note which the President read before Congress just before we entered the war, the note in which Zimmermann, German Minister for Foreign Affairs, promised Mexico financial aid and the states of New Mexico, Texas and Arizona if she declared war against the United States. This telegram was deciphered by the British Cryptographic Bureau early in 1917, just before we entered the war.

Yardley, Herbert O.. The American Black Chamber (Bluejacket Books) (Kindle Locations 1606-1609). Naval Institute Press. Kindle Edition.

The United States declared war on  Germany in April 1917, and subsequently sent approximately two million troops to France, resulting in “about 320,000 casualties: 53,402 battle deaths.” Twenty-four years later the United States entered World War Two, an almost unavoidable consequence of the earlier war. The consequences of the Zimmermann telegram shape the American landscape to this day.

Quiz Question

One of a continuing series


Searching for a new Quiz Question this week. History to the rescue.

I was looking over some photos I have, and I got to thinking. What was the greatest land battle ever fought in the Western Hemisphere? By greatest, I’m thinking  most troops involved, most firepower, most casualties.

Search your history books if you want, and post your answer, not on Facebook, but as a comment below.


This posting has received a number of comments and attempts to answer the question. I am going to drop the final hint. I pulled up a map from Google. See below:


I added a line running north and south through London. Everything to the left of that line (in the picture) is in the Western Hemisphere. Please note that almost all of Spain is west of the line, and particularly the invasion of Normandy took place to the west of the line. The eastern most landings of Operation  Overlord were directed at Caen in France, and that city is in the Western Hemisphere.

Quick History Lesson


Three years ago I posted an item in response to the above, which came to my Facebook feed by way of a conservative friend. Since that time this post has received a load of traffic, like 768 reads yesterday. It has also received push back, typically from conservatives. There is general disagreement with the apparent conclusion that political conservatives have been obstacles to  social progress in the past and  that this opposition has migrated to the Republican Party.

Here are two recent comments posted to this item. Discussion to follow:

One huge flaw in your analysis, of the 1,600 democrats in that time period, of democrats who were racist, who built and invented the KKK, only 1% switched to the Rep party.

Please stop your crap about the Confederate flag — it’s NOT racist except in the minds of people like you.

Take the first one, from Mark Carbone. He talks about Democrats being early behind the KKK. Then he comments on “1% switched to the [Republican Party].” I would like to respond to Mark’s numbers, but I can’t find any reference to the 1% in my post. I have sent Mark an email asking for elaboration, and I am waiting for a response.

If the case is that 1% of the Democrats switched to the Republican Party, and the remainder did not, then it can be surmised they all died before the character of the Democratic Party changed in the 20th century.

Regarding David Weir’s request for me to stop my crap about the Confederate battle flag, he says it’s racist only in the minds of people like me. That would put me in some interesting company:







Is Dylan Roof like me? He thinks the Confederate battle flag represents racism. How about those KKK hoodies? Have they suddenly embraced the Confederate flag and abandoned white supremacy? An answer from David Weir would helpful about right now.

There will be more to  come on this in the future. Keep reading.

Tattered Justice


It was the morning of 15 April 1945 near Bergen in northwestern Germany. When Clara Greenbaum woke it quickly became apparent something was wrong. Nobody came to bang with sticks on the bed frames in the barracks where she had spent the night, and many nights in the previous months, along with her two children. And there was something wrong. The guards who had tormented, brutalized and murdered 100,000 others were now gone. In the middle of the night, while their victims lay sleeping under threat of death, guards at the notorious Bergen-Belsen prison camp fled into the darkness. Soldiers of another army were approaching.

It was hours before anybody in the barracks summoned the courage to open the door and peer out. Then, in ones and twos, prisoners filed into the light of an overcast day. The guards were gone. But where? Then there was a sound. More soldiers were coming.

Hours passed and then the mass of people stirred. They could hear the unmistakable sound of heavy vehicles approaching from behind the low hills to the north. A moment later a column of tanks and trucks appeared. The vehicles were rumbling across the ploughed fields towards the barbed wire. Panic went through the crowd like a bolt of electricity . This was it. The Germans were going to machine-gun them and then roll over their bodies to eradicate the evidence of their crimes. Then someone saw the Union Jack flying from the turret of one of the tanks. They were British! To the prisoners’ amazement the column circled the camp twice before drawing up in formation at the front gates, where the vehicles’ engines were turned off. Presumably they had been checking to see if any SS troops were prepared to make a final stand. And there they waited. Not a word was spoken. No orders were given. Clara estimated that as many as 500 troops were standing in complete silence, staring through the barbed wire. What were they waiting for? And then one of the soldiers doubled up and retched. Another vomited and then another. So that was it. They had been staring at the inmates in disgust. Hardened soldiers were sick to their stomachs at the sight of them . At that, many prisoners turned away. They were ashamed of what they were, of what they had become.

Roland, Paul (2012-06-26). The Nuremberg Trials: The Nazis and Their Crimes Against Humanity (Kindle Locations 117-126). Arcturus Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Slave labourers in the Buchenwald concentration camp near Weimar, one of the first camps to be liberated by US soldiers in April 1945. The camp’s first commandant from 1937 to 1941, Karl Otto Koch, was himself imprisoned here for corruption and was tried and executed by the Nazis shortly before the camp’s liberation. Roland, Paul (2012-06-26). The Nuremberg Trials: The Nazis and Their Crimes Against Humanity (Kindle Locations 190-192). Arcturus Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Slave labourers in the Buchenwald concentration camp near Weimar, one of the first camps to be liberated by US soldiers in April 1945. The camp’s first commandant from 1937 to 1941, Karl Otto Koch, was himself imprisoned here for corruption and was tried and executed by the Nazis shortly before the camp’s liberation. Roland, Paul (2012-06-26). The Nuremberg Trials: The Nazis and Their Crimes Against Humanity (Kindle Locations 190-192). Arcturus Publishing. Kindle Edition.

But there was no reason for these people to be ashamed. They had not caused this. An organized gang of criminals had instigated the deaths of millions of people and had brought a modern, industrial, cultured nation to absolute ruin. This was a criminal act, and somebody would have to pay.

Fifteen days after Clara Greenbaum woke to a new era, the man who had orchestrated this travesty was dead, having shot himself in the head rather than face the justice he deserved. In the following days a number of the other principals in crime would also be dead. Some at their own hand, others before the muzzles of the guns of vengeful armies.

In other camps Allied officers found it difficult to maintain discipline among their men – in some cases captured SS guards were summarily executed. This was soldiers’ justice, meted out by men who had seen their share of death, but who could no longer restrain themselves when confronted with the cold-blooded slaughter, or brutalization, of innocent civilians.

Roland, Paul (2012-06-26). The Nuremberg Trials: The Nazis and Their Crimes Against Humanity (Kindle Locations 140-142). Arcturus Publishing. Kindle Edition.

By the ninth of May formal hostilities were terminated, and German forces were surrendering all over Europe. Troops were going into P.O.W. camps, Nazi government leaders were being identified and arrested. Joseph Goebbels and his wife had murdered their children and killed themselves in the government’s bunker in Berlin. Heinrich Himmler was identified and apprehended, but as he was being searched for means of suicide he chomped down on a poison capsule and died. It was later determined that Hitler’s secretary, Martin Bormann, was killed in a Berlin street while attempting to escape the bunker. A few, including Adolph Eichmann and Joseph Mengele, escaped to other countries beyond the reach of the Allies. For those firmly in the grasp of Allied forces, the future was for a moment uncertain. Some in the Allied camp wanted swift retribution.

The Allied leaders realized that something had to be done with the captured Nazi elite – and soon – because the will to pursue those guilty of perpetrating atrocities was swiftly evaporating. Furthermore, the Allied troops were exhausted after five long years of war and they just wanted to go home and put the horrors behind them. It was well known that the British prime minister, Winston Churchill, favoured the immediate execution of the captured Nazi leaders, in order to avoid the ‘tangles of legal procedure’, and certain elements within the American administration felt the same. They had managed to persuade President Franklin D. Roosevelt that a cursory hearing followed by a firing squad was the most economical method of dealing with the problem. The British Cabinet had discussed what to do with captured war criminals as far back as June 1942. Anthony Eden, the foreign secretary, had reminded them of the embarrassment caused by their failure to deal decisively with Kaiser Wilhelm II after the First World War.

Roland, Paul (2012-06-26). The Nuremberg Trials: The Nazis and Their Crimes Against Humanity (Kindle Locations 194-201). Arcturus Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Interestingly, the Soviets, who early had been complicit in Hitler’s war of aggression and ultimately suffered terribly from a German invasion, now favored a public trial.

Ironically it was the American secretary of war, the elderly Republican Henry Stimson, who vehemently opposed Morgenthau’s plan. He found an unexpected ally in the Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, who had told Winston Churchill that if the leading Nazis were summarily executed the world would say that their enemies had been afraid to put them on trial and had put them to death to silence them. Stimson added that to deny the defendants due process would be to risk making them martyrs in the eyes of their people, which is exactly what had happened after the British had executed the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising in Ireland. Stimson recalled that the citizens of Dublin had initially jeered at the plotters for the destruction they had brought upon their capital city, but that their mood had altered after the British authorities had ordered the rebel leaders to be shot without trial.

Roland, Paul (2012-06-26). The Nuremberg Trials: The Nazis and Their Crimes Against Humanity (Kindle Locations 213-219). Arcturus Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Where to hold the trial was a problem of some proportion. We, the Allies, had bombed Nazi government institutions to rubble, with one notable exception. Here irony piled on top of irony. Spared from destruction was the Palace of Justice in Nuremberg.

The Palace of Justice

The shell -scarred Palace of Justice resembled a besieged fortress in bandit country. It had been the site of the final battle for the city. The courtyard was still strewn with pieces of shrapnel and spent cartridges where the remnants of two SS divisions had held out until they had been shelled into submission. Now five Sherman tanks squatted at key points around the main building, their gun barrels loaded with 76 mm shells, while GIs crouched behind sandbags at the entrance to the court.

Roland, Paul (2012-06-26). The Nuremberg Trials: The Nazis and Their Crimes Against Humanity (Kindle Locations 500-505). Arcturus Publishing. Kindle Edition.

From Google Images. Apart from the Palace of Justice, the rest of Nuremberg was a bombed out mess. That's what you get for starting a World War that kills +50 million people.

From Google Images. Apart from the Palace of Justice, the rest of Nuremberg was a bombed out mess. That’s what you get for starting a World War that kills +50 million people.

This is the place of some of the Nazis’ notorious transgressions against justice. The Nuremberg Laws of 1935 stripped German Jews of their citizenship and of all basic human rights. Here was subsequently the site of continued judicial insults, including the trumped up trial of Leo Katzenberger.

Leo Katzenberger was a Jewish businessman who had seen his chain of shoe stores stolen from him by the Nazis under the Aryanization decrees of 1938, which legalized theft from German Jews. The elderly man had no hope of emigrating so he continued to live in an apartment in one of his properties. During 1941 his friendship with a teenage girl, Irene Seiler, was reported to the authorities, who accused Katzenberger of violating the race laws, which forbade relationships between Aryans and Jews. At his trial, 67-year-old Katzenberger repeatedly denied that there was anything of a sexual nature in the relationship, but his protests were shouted down by the presiding judge, Dr Oswald Rothaug, who called Katzenberger a ‘syphilitic Jew’ and ‘an agent of world Jewry’. Katzenberger was sentenced to death.

Roland, Paul (2012-06-26). The Nuremberg Trials: The Nazis and Their Crimes Against Humanity (Kindle Locations 2719-2725). Arcturus Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Writer Paul Rolland tells the story in The Nuremberg trials in The Nuremberg Trials: The Nazis and Their Crimes Against Humanity.

Among the principal Allied governments, Great Britain, France, the Soviet Union and the United States, the Americans picked up the heavy lifting for the trials. The vast bulk of the expense, logistics and legal work was provided by the U.S.

Seated in the back row are the eight members of the tribunal representing the four main Allied countries: the Soviet Union, Great Britain, the United States and France. Roland, Paul (2012-06-26). The Nuremberg Trials: The Nazis and Their Crimes Against Humanity (Kindle Locations 278-280). Arcturus Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Seated in the back row are the eight members of the tribunal representing the four main Allied countries: the Soviet Union, Great Britain, the United States and France. Roland, Paul (2012-06-26). The Nuremberg Trials: The Nazis and Their Crimes Against Humanity (Kindle Locations 278-280). Arcturus Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Paul Roland is not an academic historian, but he has produced a number of historical writings, including The Crimes of Jack the Ripper: The Whitechapel Murders Re-Examined. Books related to the Nazi phenomenon include Nazi Women: The Attraction of Evil and Nazis and the Occult. His book on the Nuremberg Trials is an excellent brief that draws from authoritative sources and gives a good account of the development of the legal case against the Nazi principals. Courtroom drama abounds.

Robert H. Jackson had been United States Attorney General under President Roosevelt. He led the American prosecution contingent. His duel with former Reichsmarschall Herman Goering presented a most interesting moment.

Goering Signs His Own Death Warrant

‘Did you not also sign a decree in 1940 ordering the seizure of all Jewish property in Poland?’

‘I assume so if the decree is there.’ The defendant was now visibly squirming in his seat.

‘And another saying the Jews would receive no compensation for damage caused by enemy attack or by German forces?’

‘If the law bears my name then it must be so,’ Goering conceded.

‘Is this your signature?’ asked Jackson, pointing an accusing finger at the next document that had been laid before the accused.

‘It appears to be.’

‘Is it or is it not your signature?’ Jackson’s tone betrayed his growing impatience. Goering sensed that a trap was being set. He took a moment to answer.

‘It is.’

‘It is your signature on a document dated July 1941,’ Jackson explained for the benefit of the court, ‘asking Himmler and [Reinhard] Heydrich to make plans for the Final Solution of the Jewish Question.’

Goering exploded.

‘That is not a proper translation! I said total solution, not final solution.’

‘These are your words to Himmler,’ continued Jackson, warming to the task.

‘“ I charge you to send me before long an overall plan for the organizational, factual and material measures necessary for the desired solution of the Jewish question.” Is that an accurate translation of this order?’

‘That had to do with the evacuation and emigration of the Jews,’ Goering protested.

‘You ordered all government agencies to co-operate with the SS in the final solution of the Jewish question. Did you not?’

‘There is nothing in there about the SS!’ The colour was coming back to Reichsmarschall Goering’s flaccid cheeks.

‘This document states that you ordered all government agencies to co-operate with the SS. You sent this letter to SS Gruppenführer Heydrich.’

‘That does not mean that the SS had anything to do with the solution of the Jewish question!’

The words were barely out of his mouth when Goering realized that he had placed the noose around his own neck. There was an audible murmur in the court as Jackson leaned in to face his most formidable adversary.

‘Would you mind repeating that?’ he asked calmly.

‘I must say this clearly. I did not know anything about what took place in the concentration camps or the methods used there. These things were kept secret from me.’

But Jackson was already striding back to the bench where his colleagues sat, jubilant in the knowledge that the murderous nature of the Nazi leadership had finally been exposed for all to see.

‘I might add that even the Führer did not know the extent of what was happening.’ Goering was rambling, desperate . But no one was listening.

Roland, Paul (2012-06-26). The Nuremberg Trials: The Nazis and Their Crimes Against Humanity (Kindle Locations 1723-1753). Arcturus Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Twenty-four people were charged:

Martin Bormann
Karl Doenitz
Hans Frank
Wilhelm Frick
Hans Fritzsche
Walther Funk
Hermann Goering
Rudolf Hess
Alfred Jodl
Ernst Kaltenbrunner
Wilhelm Keitel
Gustav Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach
Robert Ley
Konstantin von Neurath
Franz von Papen
Erich Raeder
Joachim von Ribbentrop
Alfred Rosenberg
Fritz Sauckel
Hjalmar Schacht
Baldur von Schirach
Arthur Seyss-Inquart
Albert Speer
Julius Streicher

Only 21 stood trial. Bormann was by then already dead, though this was not demonstrated until years later. He was tried and convicted in absentia. Gustav Krupp, head of the German industrial empire that fueled, and collaborated with, Nazi aggressions was deemed too ill to stand trial. Robert Ley, who had ruled over slave labor for the Nazis, killed himself in his cell at the Palace of Justice prior to the trial.

Proceedings began in November 1945 and concluded in September 1946. The judges handed down the verdicts on 1 October 1946. Three defendants, Hans Fritsche, Hjalmar Schact and Franz von Papen, were acquitted and walked free, but only with protection from angry mobs. Of those convicted, seven received death sentences and sentenced to be hanged. Principal of these was Goering.

Hermann Goering

VERDICT: Guilty on all 4 counts. Sentenced to death by hanging.

The Judgment against Goering concluded: ‘From the moment he joined the Party in 1922 and took command of the street fighting organization, the SA , Goering was the adviser, the active agent of Hitler and one of the prime leaders of the Nazi movement. As Hitler’s political deputy he was largely instrumental in bringing the National Socialists to power in 1933, and was charged with consolidating this power and expanding German armed might. He developed the Gestapo and created the first concentration camps, relinquishing them to Himmler in 1934… The night before the invasion of Czechoslovakia and the absorption of Bohemia and Moravia, at a conference with Hitler and President Hácha he threatened to bomb Prague if Hácha did not submit… He commanded the Luftwaffe in the attack on Poland and throughout the aggressive wars which followed… The record is filled with Goering’s admissions of his complicity in the use of slave labour… He made plans for the exploitation of Soviet territory long before the war on the Soviet Union… Goering persecuted the Jews, particularly after the November, 1938, riots and not only in Germany… Although their extermination was in Himmler’s hands, Goering was far from disinterested or inactive despite his protestations from the witness box… There is nothing to be said in mitigation… His guilt is unique in its enormity. The record discloses no excuses for this man.’

Roland, Paul (2012-06-26). The Nuremberg Trials: The Nazis and Their Crimes Against Humanity (Kindle Locations 2303-2315). Arcturus Publishing. Kindle Edition.

I have posted a separate review of Goering: The Rise and Fall of the Notorious Nazi Leader [Kindle Edition]. That post concluded:

The hangman never got to Hermann Goering. Although the prisoners awaiting execution at the Palace of Justice in Nuremberg were not told in advance of the execution date, Goering may have sensed that the final hour had come. He was scheduled to be the first taken by the hangman, but two hours before his time he took poison and died in his cell.

Goering’s death did not interrupt the proceedings. Ten convicted Nazis went to the gallows in a period of less than two hours beginning at 1 a.m. on 16 October 1946. Following the executions Goering’s body was brought from his cell to the gallows room and formally identified for the death certificate. Writer Paul Roland relates the final journey of Hermann Goering.

Just before dawn the bodies were taken away in two trucks under heavy guard and driven to Dachau concentration camp, a short distance northwest of Munich, where the ovens had been relit for their cremation. The ashes were scattered in a nearby river.

There was no sense of triumph among the victors, only relief that this tragic and violent era had finally come to an end.

Roland, Paul (2012-06-26). The Nuremberg Trials: The Nazis and Their Crimes Against Humanity (Kindle Locations 2648-2651). Arcturus Publishing. Kindle Edition.

The First Nuremberg Trial was not the last. The Allies followed up with prosecution of lesser lights of Nazi evil. There was a Doctors’ Trial, December 1946 to August 1947, and there was a trial of Nazi judges, March to December 1947. The Judges’ Trial was the subject of a motion picture Judgment at Nuremberg in 1961, staring Spencer Tracy as an American judge in a fictional case that reflects the injustice inflicted on Leo Katzenberger.

Poster from IMDB.com

Poster from IMDB.com

Rumors and Skepticism


I’ve been associated with The North Texas Skeptics for about 28 years, and way back then we dealt a lot with creationists. I was at a symposium hosted by creationists, and a creationist challenged my skepticism. “How come you’re not skeptical of evolution?”

I probably responded with something like, “In what way?” but the proper answer would be, “Every time we look into the science behind evolution we keep running into hard facts. Hard facts tend to kill off a lot of skepticism.”

That came to mind recently while I was engaged in yet another Facebook dialog. It went something like this:

Daniel G. Kuttner I’m still awaiting that Skepticism aimed at Clinton’s misdeeds and contradictions.
Maybe you should call yourself “The Directed Skeptic!”

Like · Reply · September 11 at 6:56pm · Edited

John Blanton Did I not dig into her political intransigence and hide bound religiosity?

Like · Reply · September 11 at 8:14pm

John Blanton Dan asked whether Clinton lied under oath about the “Benghazi” video. Before I can respond I need to know some particulars, because I have no idea what he is referring to.

Like · Reply · September 11 at 9:16pm

Daniel G. Kuttner John: Yes, those “criticisms” were like my answer to the job interview question: “What is your biggest fault?” and I answer “I’m a bit of a perfectionist.”

Like · Reply · Yesterday at 1:42am

John Blanton Dan, overt religiosity is a mark against anybody’s mental state. If you believe otherwise, now is the time to say so.
In the meantime, before I can apply any skepticism, I need to know what you want me to be skeptical about. You have paved the Facebook feed with vague references. What is needed is specifics. Quotes, times, dates, locations would be helpful.

Like · Reply · Yesterday at 4:38am

Daniel G. Kuttner John: I’m amazed you see me “paving” FB, yet don’t see anything worth questioning except the straw man of her alleged religious beliefs. Those beliefs have changed back and forth according to, I’d guess, the vagaries of a chosen focus group, rather than her conscience or “religiosity.”

A list would include such things as the FBI Director’s list of her security misdeeds and special exception given her as to prosecuting them. Would you or I be able to tell a prosecutor, “I didn’t mean to drive while drunk, so you can’t prosecute me?” That was Comey’s only reason for not prosecuting. Well, his only STATED reason.

Oh, and where’s the skepticism over the coincidence of the ILLEGAL meeting between Bill and Comey’s boss? There’s something to be skeptical about!

How ’bout her physical health? There’s another one with a fair amount of video evidence.

As to religiosity itself, I’d have to judge on a case by case basis. I’m not a fan of religions, but many have nuggets of wisdom worth observing.

Mocking from afar isn’t my style. Questioning is.

John Blanton Dan, your impression of skepticism is peculiar. Coming up: a blog post to address these issues.

Like · Reply · 1 · Yesterday at 2:20pm

Daniel G. KuttnerJohn: Yay!

So, here it goes. I copied this from Facebook today (13 September), just to give you a time perspective. It’s necessary to begin with what has been said. Dan never mentions particulars. I’m accustomed to particulars. Particulars would include things like:

  • Exact quotes, who said what
  • Times and dates
  • Locations, what country, what city, what government hearing
  • Links to related documents, official documents at best, but even newspaper clippings

I don’t get a lot of that from some people. A lot can be hidden in vague commentary. To the most part, Dan has left his argument bare, and he wants me to make it for him. Then I will be challenged to refute his argument, but it won’t be his argument I am refuting, it will be mine. If I refute an argument I am required to come up with, then I can be rightly charged with refuting my own argument. So cool. I will do what I can.

Let’s first clear the boards a bit. Dan’s remark “… the straw man of her alleged religious beliefs. Those beliefs have changed back and forth according to, I’d guess, the vagaries of a chosen focus group, rather than her conscience or “religiosity.” Yes, that is not a straw man. Clinton’s buy in to deep religiosity is well documented and not the conclusion of focus groups. Dan has mentioned he read my review of Carl Bernstein’s book A Woman In Charge. He maybe needs to read the book. Bernstein recounts Clinton’s religious upbringing and her involvement in the church (Christian, Methodist) from childhood. And he is harsh in his observations. Some excerpts:

While Bill sought solace in his familiar escapes, she read the Bible of her Methodist childhood and considered anew the explicit message of service in John Wesley’s teaching: “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, as long as ever you can.” She dabbled in New Age spiritualism, almost always carried with her an underlined and dog-eared book of celestial axioms, and welcomed into the White House Solarium a pair of feminist oracles who channeled her into Eleanor Roosevelt’s soul. All of this as she found herself— unimaginably to her— with no choice but to remove herself (or be removed) from the White House chain of command before two full years had passed. She then fled Washington for weeks at a stretch as she sought purpose and redemption in solidarity with women of the Third World.

Bernstein, Carl. A Woman in Charge (pp. 9-10). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

After each of Hugh’s children was born, he drove the family back to Scranton for a baptism at Court Street Methodist Church, where he had been baptized in 1911, and his brothers before and after him. Every summer the Rodhams drove across the Alleghenys for a two-week vacation at a cabin he and his father, with their own hands, had built on Lake Winola, near Scranton, in the rolling Pennsylvania hills. The cabin had no heat, bath, or shower. It was a far different environment than the luxurious vacation cottages of many Park Ridge children on the shores of Lake Michigan or the Wisconsin dells.

Hugh meant the vacation to connect his children to a past not as privileged as the one they knew in Park Ridge, as well as to maintain a strong sense of family. On one of their summer vacations, he insisted they visit a coal mine in the anthracite fields nearby. Whatever her discomfort with such gestures at the time, Hillary’s later political identification with working-class values and the struggles of average wage-earners was not something acquired at Wellesley or Yale as part of a 1960s countercultural ethos.

Bernstein, Carl. A Woman in Charge (pp. 19-20). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Hillary had been confirmed at the First United Methodist Church of Park Ridge in the sixth grade. (Hugh Rodham’s parents claimed that John Wesley himself had converted members of the Rodham family to Methodism in the coal-mining district near Newcastle in the north of England.) Dorothy taught Sunday school at United Methodist. Hillary attended Bible classes and was a member of the Altar Guild. “[ My family] talked with God, walked with God, ate, studied and argued with God,” Hillary said.

Bernstein, Carl. A Woman in Charge (p. 34). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Read the book. Read other sources about Clinton’s religiosity. This is no straw man. She is an actual religious nut case. Here is a person who wants to be President of the United States and to command our armed forces, yet she believes there is a “man in the sky” who oversees and controls events on this planets. It is so scary. We can only hope in the years to come that Hillary Clinton does not heed that disembodied voice so as to act on it in dire ways, such as sending American forces on an armed crusade of a foreign country.

Consider another of Dan’s remarks: “A list would include such things as the FBI Director’s list of her security misdeeds and special exception given her as to prosecuting them.” I do not know whether the FBI director has an actual list, but a Google search did not return an FBI list. The closest thing I found was a report by FBI Director James Comey. Here is a pertinent excerpt:

Last, we have done extensive work to understand what indications there might be of compromise by hostile actors in connection with the personal e-mail operation.

That’s what we have done. Now let me tell you what we found:

Although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information, there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.

For example, seven e-mail chains concern matters that were classified at the Top Secret/Special Access Program level when they were sent and received. These chains involved Secretary Clinton both sending e-mails about those matters and receiving e-mails from others about the same matters. There is evidence to support a conclusion that any reasonable person in Secretary Clinton’s position, or in the position of those government employees with whom she was corresponding about these matters, should have known that an unclassified system was no place for that conversation. In addition to this highly sensitive information, we also found information that was properly classified as Secret by the U.S. Intelligence Community at the time it was discussed on e-mail (that is, excluding the later “up-classified” e-mails).

None of these e-mails should have been on any kind of unclassified system, but their presence is especially concerning because all of these e-mails were housed on unclassified personal servers not even supported by full-time security staff, like those found at Departments and Agencies of the U.S. Government—or even with a commercial service like Gmail.

Dan has made another interesting statement: “Would you or I be able to tell a prosecutor, ‘I didn’t mean to drive while drunk, so you can’t prosecute me?’ That was Comey’s only reason for not prosecuting. Well, his only STATED reason.” It is left to the reader’s imagination what Dan means by that last sentence. The reason for capitalizing the word “stated” is left unclear.

Regarding intent, yes, it does count. I have (as Dan likely has) worked with classified material. You can be prosecuted for careless handling, but this almost never happens. My boss, a cost center manager on a classified defense contract, lost a secret document. He was in deep shit, in danger of losing his clearance. He did not get prosecuted, and I have no recollection the secret document was ever recovered. On another classified project, somebody took a computer disk from a classified computer system and copied information from that disk to an unclassified computer system. All hell was to pay, but nobody was prosecuted.

Yes, Clinton was a bad girl, but a crowd of politicians will go to jail before she does. That might include the person who deliberately outed CIA operative Valerie Plame. This was deliberately done by a high-ranking official in the George W. Bush administration, presumably in retaliation for actions by her husband, Joseph C. Wilson, in opposing the Bush administration’s quest to attribute a nuclear weapons program to Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. Scooter Libby was convicted of making false statements and obstruction of justice. The President commuted his sentence. He was not charged with revealing classified information.

Clinton’s defense, not the best in the world, is that documents sent did not have classified headers:

In various interviews, Clinton has said that “I did not send classified material, and I did not receive any material that was marked or designated classified.” However, in June and July 2016, a number of news outlets reported that Clinton’s emails did include messages with classification “portion markings”. The FBI investigation found that 110 messages contained information that was classified at the time it was sent. Sixty-five of those emails were found to contain information classified as “Secret”; more than 20 contained “Top-Secret” information. Three emails, out of 30,000, were found to be marked as classified, although they lacked classified headers and were only marked with a small “c” in parentheses, described as “portion markings” by Comey. He also said it was possible Clinton was not “technically sophisticated” enough to understand what the three classified markings meant.

According to the State Department, there were 2,093 email chains on the server that were retroactively marked as classified by the State Department at the “Confidential” confidential level.

For the uninitiated, the classification “confidential” relates to items such as contractor bids and personnel records. Items marked “confidential” do not require a sophisticated safe for security.

Those claiming Clinton escaped prosecution by the skin of her teeth need to get their information from the person who makes these calls:

James Comey’s memo to FBI employees

To all:

Because it is generating a lot of interest, I thought I should update you on where we are with our commitment to transparency in the wake of the Clinton email investigation. As I promised in July, we have leaned very far forward in providing transparency, on a couple fronts:

Congress. In order to afford Congress ample opportunity to discharge its oversight responsibilities, we took the unusual step of sending relevant 302s, our case summary Letter Head Memorandum, and the classified emails we recovered during the investigation to the House and Senate security offices. That permitted them to be reviewed by a number of committees with jurisdiction, instead of requiring that committee staff come to FBI headquarters to review the documents as we would normally require. There have been a variety of complaints because we redacted personal information and, at the request of the originating agency, restricted certain classified portions only to the Intelligence Committees, but our production has been unprecedented. I will be up on Capitol Hill the last week of September to testify before the House Judiciary Committee. This is our regular annual oversight hearing, so I’m hoping to cover many aspects of the Bureau’s great work. Of course, I’m guessing folks will want to ask about the email investigation. Through public statements, testimony (4 hours and 40 minutes without stopping, but who’s counting), and prompt document productions, we have offered unprecedented transparency of the high-quality work your colleagues did in the case. Now I would like to talk about our other work, of which we have plenty.

FOIA. As you might imagine, we have also received many requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and lots of your colleagues have been working very hard to process materials under the statute, get the necessary sign-off from other agencies with interests in the information, and get it out to the public. We finished that process Friday morning with respect to the 302 of Secretary Clinton’s interview and our Letter Head Memorandum summarizing the investigation. I almost ordered the material held until Tuesday because I knew we would take all kinds of grief for releasing it before a holiday weekend, but my judgment was that we had promised transparency and it would be game-playing to withhold it from the public just to avoid folks saying stuff about us. We don’t play games. So we released it Friday. We are continuing to process more material and will release batches of documents as they are ready, no matter the day of the week.

You may be sick of this, but let me leave you with a few words about how I have been describing the email investigation in private to our former employees as I meet them around the country.

I explain to them that there are two aspects to this: (1) our judgment about the facts and prosecutive merit; and (2) how we decided to talk about that judgment. I tell them that the difficult decision was actually the second part, not the first. At the end of the day, the case itself was not a cliff-hanger; despite all the chest-beating by people no longer in government, there really wasn’t a prosecutable case. The hard part was whether to offer unprecedented transparency about our thinking. I explain to our alumni that I struggled with that part, but decided the best way to protect the FBI, the Department of Justice, and the American people’s sense of justice was to announce it in the way we did – with extraordinary transparency and without any kind of coordination. I explain to our alums that I’m okay if folks have a different view of the investigation (although I struggle to see how they actually could, especially when they didn’t do the investigation), or about the wisdom of announcing it as we did (although even with hindsight I think that was the best course), but I have no patience for suggestions that we conducted ourselves as anything but what we are – honest, competent, and independent. Those suggesting that we are “political” or part of some “fix” either don’t know us, or they are full of baloney (and maybe some of both).

I will try not to bother you with this any longer.

Jim Comey

It would almost appear the FBI Director is talking to Dan.

Another comment by Dan: “Oh, and where’s the skepticism over the coincidence of the ILLEGAL meeting between Bill and Comey’s boss?” Again a questionable use of the term “skepticism.” Again a word in all caps with no reason explained. I have to ask just what it is I am supposed to be skeptical about. Dan leaves it for me to guess. Cool move.

First, there is no skepticism the meeting took place. What is left then? The word in all caps reflects some deep rooted desire on Dan’s part. Else the word does not fit the circumstance. And that is what skepticism is all about. An allusion to illegality is made, but an examination of even the roughest sort reveals an illusion, instead.

Regarding Hillary Clinton’s health, where is skepticism called for. Most recently it is revealed she has pneumonia and is going to be off the campaign until at least Thursday. Is there something to be investigated there?

Methinks the Dan doth protest too much. He questions the veracity of one candidate while at times seeming to favor the one most mendacious. I see this a lot. I have for over four weeks been posting daily on candidate Donald Trump, and I figure to have enough material to last right up to the election in November. I go after Trump because that’s where the fun is. For a blogger he is a gift of the ages. We can only hope he does not go away soon.

Back to Dan’s desire for skepticism, he is going to need to come up with some specifics. Here’s how it is done, for example:

  • Propose that Hillary Clinton murdered her friend Vince Foster.
  • Detail possible motives, based on information Foster was about to divulge of Clinton’s criminal activity.
  • Present evidence placing Hillary Clinton at the scene of the crime.
  • Trace the murder weapon back to Hillary Clinton.

Lay all your facts out, and give me something to work with. Dropping vague references punctuated with words in all caps falls considerably short of what I am used to dealing with.

Quiz Question

One of a continuing series


Before GPS, before LORAN, navigators (ocean) determined their latitude by the angle between the sun and the horizon at noon. They determined their longitude by the time when the sun was highest in the sky (or when the sun came above the horizon). But to do that they needed to know what time it was.

At first they had hour glasses to tell the time, and it was the job of somebody to always watch the hour glass and to turn it when the sand ran down. Eventually expert clock makers devised ever more accurate clocks to help navigators determine their longitude. The advent of the telescope made it possible to get an accurate time reference that did not drift. How might that work?

Post your answer as a comment below.

Update and answer

See the comments below. Greg was onto the solution, but he didn’t carry it to conclusion. The answer is that the advent of telescopes enabled navigators to see the moons of Jupiter. There are four large ones that are visible to anybody with a good set of binoculars, and their motions provide a reliable time reference. Early navigators did make use of these observations to determine longitude with greater accuracy:

In 1612, having determined the orbital periods of Jupiter’s four brightest satellites (Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto), Galileo proposed that with sufficiently accurate knowledge of their orbits one could use their positions as a universal clock, which would make possible the determination of longitude. He worked on this problem from time to time during the remainder of his life.

To be successful, this method required the observation of the moons from the deck of a moving ship. To this end, Galileo proposed the celatone, a device in the form of a helmet with a telescope mounted so as to accommodate the motion of the observer on the ship. This was later replaced with the idea of a pair of nested hemispheric shells separated by a bath of oil. This would provide a platform that would allow the observer to remain stationary as the ship rolled beneath him, in the manner of a gimballed platform. To provide for the determination of time from the observed moons’ positions, a Jovilabe was offered — this was an analogue computer that calculated time from the positions and that got its name from its similarities to an astrolabe. The practical problems were severe and the method was never used at sea. However, it was used for longitude determination on land.

A Day Like Any Other


This is being scheduled to post at the time and day 50 years after the event.


I’ve been around for a while, and I have seen a few of these days—days that start out as a day like any other. These days get cemented in memory in a way that keeps innocuous details sharp after half a century. This day was like that.

I spent the previous two years assembling motorcycle racing engines, so my mistake in this instance stands out. A derelict motorcycle I had purchased was now completely refurbished and street ready, and I was out and about on it the day before, the fatal flaw already at work to end the life of the engine. It set the stage for what was to follow.

Monday was forecast to see 105 degrees, almost in defiance of the puffs of cloud that broke up the blue background. I finished up my Linear Algebra class just before noon and eased onto the bike, parked on Speedway at the campus south entrance. If I had been observant I might have noticed a black Chevrolet stopped while the guard issued a temporary parking pass.

My plan was lunch, and my immediate goal was the Honda shop on East First Street. The motorcycle did not make it that far. The oil-starved valve train said “enough,” and everything stopped two blocks short. I pushed the corpse the remaining distance and parked it. My wife and I discussed plans for lunch. Since I was going to need a ride back to the campus, a logical solution was G&M Steak House on Guadalupe. Parking would be the only problem.

Parking was always a problem, but a persistent search will usually turn up something recently vacated. We were about Whitis Avenue and 20th Street when we heard the first shots. The Plymouth had no air conditioning, so the windows were open. Construction was in progress at Sutton Hall, and my guess at the time was somebody was using a ram-set gun. These employ an explosive charge and make a lot of noise.

Fortune smiled, and there was an open space on Guadalupe, right across the street from the restaurant. This was going to be our day.

It was 50 years ago today, and you are going to be impressed with the prices. At G&M Steak House you could get a cut of sirloin and a potato for the least part of $1.50. Time has fuzzed my memory, and I do not recall if drink was extra.

We were into our meal when the ambulances started arriving. I took note. Austin had voted to eliminate private ambulance service. Starting today, 1 August 1966, all ambulance service would through a city agency. And they kept coming. What was going on?

A man, likely a student, came through the front door with the announcement, “Somebody is shooting people.” It didn’t yet click. Somebody with a .22 rifle was shooting people? That was so odd. We tried to finish our meal, already paid for. But the ambulances came by on the street out front. They were still the traditional hearse-style cars with side windows, and I thought in one case I could see blood through one of the windows. Lunch was over. Our appetites were over.

We abandoned our plates and walked to the door. Outside people were standing on the sidewalk next to the glass. Somebody must have mentioned the tower, and we looked that way. Safety was a concern. The restaurant design had brick supports under the overhang on either side in the front. They were decorative, angling out from the sidewalk and giving protection to anybody standing behind the one on the north side. We got behind that. I peeked around the edge and looked up at the tower.

The gunman fired. It was no .22. The report rolled like thunder across the neighborhood. I could see the smoke from the shot where the gunman had poked the barrel through a rain spout. I had never done any serious shooting, but I knew a few ways of the world. Whoever was up there owned the space where we stood, and several blocks around. Our day would fare well only if he chose not to direct his attentions our way.

Back inside? No good. A round coming through the glass could end up anywhere inside the restaurant. We could not remain on the sidewalk. Same thing. A bad ricochet, and one of us would join the cadre already choking the ambulance fleet. I looked across the street. On the east side of Guadalupe was a stone wall, not overly high, but something that would give absolute protection to anybody willing to kneel or sit. Memory of the details fails me, but I must have done something like point at the wall, and say something like, “Let’s get over there.”

By now there was no bother with traffic. Guadalupe had emptied, except for the sporadic ambulance. When I say I had done no serious shooting, that’s not the same as saying I had done no shooting. I was experienced at picking off small animals with a telescopic sight, and I figured if I couldn’t make that shot, then it was likely the gunman was not going to be able to pick off a moving target at that distance. Especially if the moving target was really moving.

Reality dawned as we closed the last few feet of open space. The forecast was for 105 that day. The west side of the wall was going to be in direct sun for several hours. The Plymouth was parked there at the curb. The key was out of my pocket and then in my hand before we finished the run. “Get in.” Again the exact wording is unsure. “Let’s get the hell out of here.” Still fudging the blanks in memory.

I had no concern about peeling away from the curb into the north-bound lane and making a huge U-turn. Who was going to bother me now? Guadalupe was empty, and the Plymouth was an ex-DPS car with a 318 engine. I floored it. Would a bullet find its way through the Plymouth’s roof before we could rack up enough distance? That was my only concern, not the cop on 19th street waving us through. By Interstate 35 heading south I was beginning to feel safe.

We listened to the remainder of the drama on the radio at the Honda shop. Shortly came the announcement the gunman was dead. Most likely I got back to the University on my old bike, the one I was planning to sell. No work occurred the remainder of the day at the Astronomy Department. I did not go out to look, I never saw any of the places where people had died. I waited until the rain had washed away the blood before I went to those places.

There are other experiences that marked that day. In the office where I worked were a number of engineers like myself. My boss was ex-Navy and a seasoned hunter. Likewise Alan Brun, another engineer. There was some discussion about how the shooter was taken down. Not at this office, but others known to us, typically carried hunting rifles in their pickup trucks. One was the director of the accelerator laboratory. Another was a motorcycle racer I knew who worked there. We wondered if any of those were among the few who returned fire from the street.

The Astronomy Department was finishing up the construction of the 105-inch telescope on Mt. Locke near Fort Davis. Charles “Chuck” Jenkins was a middle-age engineer working as the University’s project coordinator. During the shooting he was on the phone to the prime contractor in California. Chuck’s California connection heard about the shooting and asked Chuck. Chuck said yes. He was on the floor beneath his office window that faced south a few yards from the base of the tower.

Besides engineers in our office we had two women who worked as technical illustrators. One was Cathy Hillburn, whose husband was ex-Air Force—a former F-86 pilot. Another was Kelly Wightman, not long out of high school and a summer stint at Texas A&M. They had taken lunch at the Wyatt cafeteria off campus. One of the servers they were accustomed to seeing was a Mrs. Whitman. Her name was similar to Kelly’s. They remarked she was not there that day.

Cathy and Bill Hillburn were rock-ribbed Republicans, as apparently were my boss and Alan. And the thing I recall most was a remark made by Cathy. With over a dozen dead and many wounded still in recovery, she noted that liberals were going to use this incident as an excuse to restrict gun ownership.

The sad details unfolded. Charles Whitman had murdered his mother and his wife in the early morning hours of Monday. He had prepared well, accumulating a stash of rifles, a knife, and a shotgun. He spent the morning preparing for his assault and got to the University about the time I was pushing my bike out of the parking area. He had his arsenal packed inside a foot locker.

The tower elevators do not go to the observation deck. There are about two flights of stairs yet to go after exiting the elevator. Whitman lugged his footlocker to the tower observation deck and began to make preparations.

The first person he killed was the woman who worked as a receptionist there. He killed her with multiple blows to the head with a rifle butt and ultimately with a blast from the shotgun. He also turned the shotgun on two groups of people who came to catch a view from the tower, killing three. Then he began his shooting rampage, which lasted about 90 minutes. Three officers of the Austin Police Department, accompanied by civilian, Allen Crum, invaded the observation deck and took on the shooter. Following a fusillade of rounds from Officer Ramiro Martinez that missed, Officer Houston McCoy hit Whitman with two shotgun blasts. Martinez finished the job at close range with the shotgun. It was over.

And the world has not been the same since.

It is noted that return fire from a Texas Ranger and from assorted civilians (previously mentioned) kept Whitman’s head down during the later stages of the assault. These shots also inflicted damage to the building, including the tower clock face, which required some reconstruction. See the above photo.

Whitman had gained training in the Marine Corps, and his marksmanship was telling. My belief is that the shot I observed was his last killing shot. He killed  electrical repairman Roy Schmidt at a range 1500 feet. Schmidt’s last words supposedly were, “I think I see him.” My thought at the time I saw the shot was that if he could see me, he could kill me.

The following year Rogers Meredith, the racer who worked at the accelerator lab, helped me build one of my racing engines. I took an engine casing in, and he used the heliarc welder to make a modification. A few years later, facing a contentious divorce, he ended his life. He stopped by to visit my sister-in-law on South Bluff Drive (now William Cannon Drive). Then he drove farther down the road and shot himself with a .30-06 rifle.

I worked at the Astronomy Department until 1970. At one point I gave Kelly Wightman a copy of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. Kelly was at the time living at home with her mother, and when she took the book home her mother told her she would not allow the book in the house. Kelly moved out, bought a blue British Triumph sports car, and married Malcolm “Mac” MacFarlane, an Astronomy graduate student. I took her wedding portrait, and Byron Black Sr., retired Air Force Colonel and father of my college roommate of the same name, took the wedding photographs. Mac gained his Ph.D. and subsequently was given the job of designing a solution the Hubble Space Telescope focus problem.

Another person at the scene that day was William Helmer, who was on the staff of the The Daily Texan, the school newspaper. I had this artist friend, Tony Bell, and he later told me of the fun times he and Bill Helmer fired off a Tommy gun in the basement of Bill’s house in Austin. Given the gun’s decibel level and the close confines of a basement in Austin, that must have been deaf-defying. Bill authored a book about the weapon, The Gun That Made The 20s Roar. Last I heard Bill was an editor at Playboy.

The year following the University shooting I saw Dickey Martinettes for the last time, a few hours before his cousin shot him in the forehead with a pistol. The two mentioned are among several I have personally known who died by gunfire. I did not know any of Charles Whitman’s victims.

From that day I ceased to see myself as insulated from the drama and the gross tragedy that occur daily. For any one of us any one of these can become a fixture in our lives—not just a newspaper headline. For me it was a part of starting to care.

Quiz Question

One of a continuing series


This is a geography Quiz Question. Here’s a partial map of the United States, showing Oklahoma. That thingy sticking out to the left is called the panhandle. How did Oklahoma get this strip of land?

Post your answer as a comment in the section below. No fair doing research on the Internet.

Update and Answer

And the answer is this strip of Oklahoma north of the Texas Panhandle was originally part of Texas. The problem was, this land extended north of a critical latitude. States extending this far north were prohibited from the practice of human slavery, so in the interest of humanity Texas gave up this strip of land and continued the practice.

When You Would Like To Live Forever

There are times I would like to live forever.

The Age of Enlightenment?

The Age of Enlightenment?

This post is dedicated to Clara Atkins, my high school English teacher. I last saw her at the 20th class reunion. She was old and frail at the time and did not live much longer after this photo was taken.

Clara Atkins, Granbury High School

Clara Atkins, Granbury High School

Mrs. Atkins told of growing up, a young bride, then a widow with five children, apparently devoting the remainder of her life to teaching the English language to small town students. Sometimes it may have seemed a thankless task, but her students never forgot. A Fort Worth newspaper ran a favorite teacher contest, and students rallied, massively collecting enough coupons to send her to New York to see Around the World in 80 Days on Broadway.

All the while I struggled under her whip. This obtuse language from an obscure island off the European coast was determined to defeat me. On an occasion my efforts were not enough, and I had an F on my report card. I was forced to try harder, finally out of high school and into college, where my woes continued. My crowning glory was to obtain an A in Technical Writing as I worked toward a degree in Engineering.

Later in life, as a manager of small engineering projects, it was my job to deal with reports prepared by recent college graduates. It became apparent that the language of obscurity was winning its relentless battle. Evidence of defeat was everywhere. I began to wonder whether our public schools had at last surrendered and in desperation had quit giving Fs in English. The signs were all about.

Now I’m finished with school and finished, even, with work. In my retirement I pour my thoughts and observations out onto this blog. And I still struggle. If grammatical blunders are thin on these pages, I owe a lot of that to a college roommate, who is a master of this language and capable in several others. If you miss seeing grammatical absurdities and horrendous typos, you have Byron Black from Bryan, Texas, to thank.

Which may or may not bring me to the subject of this post. First some history. In fact, how about a Quick History Lesson:

Facebook again. Somebody posted this on Facebook. It’s supposed to be a history lesson. In fact, it’s title is “Quick History Lesson.” It is quick.

My review of the Quick History Lesson details the flight of racists and other suppressive elements of American society from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party. The title comes from a meme posted on Facebook by a conservative friend, and it wants to paint the current Democratic Party as the party of racism and suppression.


My response was to turn the meme on its head and to note it is not a matter of Democrats versus Republicans, it’s a matter of liberals versus conservatives. When conservatives fled the Democratic Party, starting over 50 years ago, they found a home in the Republican Party. That has been an unhappy circumstance for the party that has in the past stood for so much of what is great about this country. The presidential campaign in progress this year is beginning to show some poison fruit from this union. More about this in another post. Things can develop between now and November.

In the mean time, my post on the Quick History Lesson continues to draw readership. 31 readers yesterday. 287 on 14 June. 20 so far today. And this political history story collects comments from time to time. I appreciate them all. Some are favorable. Some are delightfully not. Here are three received within the span of a few minutes this morning. They have been copied and pasted directly from the blog post. This is one of those times I would like to live forever:

This author is your typical Deceitful and Dishonest DemonRat. Regardless of labels changing, it makes no difference on his word play on Liberals and Conservatives, the simple Truth is you can’t change the simple FACT DemonKKKrats have always been the Party of Racists with their KKK Wing, Jim Crow Laws, Segregation, and today with their Black Racial Arsonists and Poverty Pimps. Yes, the lone good Democrat in history in JFK called himself a Liberal, bit today he’s be a Far Right Wing NeoCon Teabagger by today’s Leftist DemonRats. It doesn’t change the FACT he was an aberration within the Dems Criminal Organization. JFK of course was murdered by sociopath LBJ, or at least those of US educated on the subject. But like this misleading opionion piece article, he tries whitewashing the Democrats shameful history of RACISM and Corruption that is the Dems past and present history….

He’s an uneducated American Idiot trying to hide his Parties history of RACISM and Murder. Absolutely mind boggling the Stupidity of the opinion piece.

The author is extremely uneducated. You can’t change the Voting Record of DemonKKKrats against Civil Rights, and the FACT they wrote and passed every Racist Legislation in the history of the USA. They can only try to blame and LIE their racist past on someone else.

These three are all from Tip Larkin and he (she?) is responding to comments posted by three others. You need to go to the blog post to sort it all out. Besides missing the point that the issue is liberal versus conservative rather than Democrat versus Republican, Tip illustrates his (her) point unintentionally. I was particularly struck by the irony of a juxtaposition within a single sentence:

He’s an uneducated American Idiot trying to hide his Parties history of RACISM and Murder. Absolutely mind boggling the Stupidity of the opinion piece.

Yes, the American education system has failed Tip, as it has so many others. Clara Atkins, please come back. We need you now more than ever.

The Minor Key


Here’s where I launch off into an area in which I have not expertise. That never stopped me before.

I’ve been following the campaign of the presumptive President Hillary Clinton since she first announced. This is not about Clinton’s job history, and it’s not about her policy positions. Let’s talk about tone.

On the subject of tone, look at the notes pictured above. Those are the first four notes of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. The same note repeated three times in rapid succession, followed by a lower note, stretched out. Observe it’s in a minor key. It’s the voice of doom.

Now, let’s listen to candidate Clinton’s speaking tone. Here she is on the PRC’s forced abortion policy, a very serious issue. It’s a video clip. You’re going to need to have the sound turned on. Just listen to a couple of sentences from her, and then you can shut down the video and continue reading.

“I consider any governmental imposition that imposes government policy on women to be absolutely unacceptable.” That’s a laudable statement The problem is it’s in the wrong key. If this were a piece of music, this would be a major key, much like Beethoven’s much brighter and joyful Sixth Symphony. Madam Secretary, if you don’t want to sound serious, if you don’t want to sound sincere, this is the way to do it.

I am the last person you want as an authority public speaking. However, I have made a study of great speakers of the 20th century, and I have my ideas about what made them effective. Here is another 20th century speaker recognized for his ability. Don’t get carried away. Listen to a few sentences, and then get back to reading.

Let me know if you agree, but this is a minor key. It’s the voice of doom. Here’s another famous speaker of the era:

Here is a previous United States president.

Adolf Hitler’s speeches delivered a modern western nation to the gates of Hell. Winston Churchill promised his people blood, sweat and tears. President Roosevelt did not have to remind Americans that thousands of their countrymen were about to die. All these speakers were convincing in their tone.

Secretary Clinton, if you want to be convincing, if you want your words to be appreciated, then you need to quit talking like a little girl trying to please her mother. You need to end your sentences on a down note. Your tone needs to remind people, “If I am not right, then we are all going to die.” And you need to deliver it in a minor key.